Fire fighting duo takes on new challenge

Cynthia Guindon and Caroline Marx hug on Guindon’s last day with the Verner Volunteer Firefighters. Despite Guindon’s move out-of-province, he two remain close and have taken on the High Rise Challenge to fight muscular dystrophy, under the team name West Nipissing Fireflies. Photo by Andrew Collins

They’ve never been afraid of a challenge, and next month, Caroline Marx and Cynthia Guindon will once again be teamed up to fight – this time against muscular dystrophy.

The two friends collaborated for years as part of the WN Fire Services’ Verner volunteer fire fighters crew. Together, they fought fires and stereotypes, earning their stripes and the respect of their colleagues and the whole community.

While Guindon has since moved to the province of Quebec for work, and Marx has been working as a nurse while she pursues more fire fighter training in hopes of finding full time work in this field, the two have remained close and passionate about giving back. When Guindon came across a fundraising challenge for muscular dystrophy, she knew who she could count on; she sent the info to Marx, who was working a night shift at the North Bay hospital, and her friend immediately got on board.

The duo teamed up under the banner “West Nipissing Fireflies” and registered for the 24th annual High Rise Challenge. The event will see them climb the 38-story Energy Tower in Shawinigan, Québec on October 9, in exchange for pledges they hope will top $1,000 for the fight against muscular dystrophy. It’s no small undertaking, as they will be wearing full fire fighting gear as they climb up and then down the 595 steps.

Why would they put themselves through it? For Cynthia Guindon, it’s personal. “My own medical history is not great, I’ve fought two cancers and it wasn’t always easy. This year I turn 40 and I wanted to celebrate in a big way, so this is a challenge that’s fitting. (…) Also, I know that Caro is working super hard to earn a position as a full-time fire fighter, and this is my way of encouraging her since I’m no longer in Ontario to push her. I’m Caro’s number one fan!”

While they could have chosen a skyscraper in Ontario for the national challenge, the two wanted to do it in Shawinigan, where the event first began 24 years ago.

Marx recalls getting that first message and agreeing without giving the idea much thought. “I was on a night shift, I didn’t have the clearest of minds, and I was like “oh yeah, that sounds like a good idea, ok go!”

Guindon laughs and admits, “I’m always the instigator of these not-too-brilliant challenges!” She recounts a good example. “We did a Relay for Life, going from Verner to Lavigne in June, in 32-degree heat with our full bunker suits on. I didn’t know there were hills to get to Lavigne!”

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