GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — The sun was beating down on Calder Plaza. Carlye Scheer was in full gear, including jacket, pants, helmet, boots and an air tank. She was pulling a 175-pound dummy across the finish line, which she says is her favorite part of the Firefighter Combat Challenge because it's the hardest part.
"I could barely breathe," said Scheer, a firefighter for the Grand Rapids Fire Department.
As she collapsed across the finish line, a team of volunteers rushed to her side, helping her strip off her gear and getting her cool. Completing the grueling task had just paid off for Scheer.
"And they're like, 'oh, we've got a new state record holder.' And the first thing I asked, I said 'what was my time?'" Scheer remembers.
Exactly 4:07.8 is how long it took Scheer to finish a course that required her to not only drag that dummy, but also to haul a hose up several flights of stairs and use a sledgehammer to move a heavy weight on a sled.
"All of the events are supposed to simulate what we do on the job," said Scheer.
Saturday was the first time she had ever competed in the challenge and she came away an individual women's state record for the course.
"It was so awesome. I just feel so grateful to work for Grand Rapids, and this department has been so supportive. Putting on this event, and hosting all these other firefighters from Michigan has been so awesome," she said.
Scheer also competed in coed and all-female events with her teammates from Grand Rapids, the "Bad Axe Babes."
Carlye Scheer's big weekend at the Firefighter Combat Challenge
Being a firefighter wasn't a childhood dream for Scheer. The first time the Gaylord, Mich. native thought to try it out was actually four years ago.
"Somebody told me to check out firefighting and I went and did a ride along and I have never looked back. It is the best job in the world, and I'm so fulfilled doing this job," said Scheer, who added that she had always felt a higher calling in life.
"You never know what the day is going to bring. Every day is different, and we get to go out in the community and help people in need on some of their worst days."
In addition to being a chance for firefighters to test their skills, the challenge also served as an opportunity to raise money for the GRFD Fire Prevention Foundation. The foundation helps raise money to install smoke detectors in people's homes, to educate them about fire safety, and to help them develop their own emergency escape plans.
You can find out how to donate and how to get help from the foundation on their Facebook page.
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