CALGARY -- A well-known Calgary fundraiser was forced to change things up this year, so organizers got creative with their flagship event Sunday.

The sixth annual Wellspring Calgary Stair Climbing Challenge held its Challenge the Chief competition inside a gym for the first time ever.

Calgary fire chief Steve Dongworth and Calgary police chief Mark Neufeld donned full firefighter gear and hit the stair climbing machines for 1,204 steps.

The event is usually held inside Calgary’s downtown Bow building.

"It's tough," Neufeld told CTV News. "At about 400 steps it got hot, by 800 it was heavy and hot and the last 400 were a pretty good grind."

The gym offered a socially-distanced space, but Dongworth, who has participated in all six years of the event, said the original venue might’ve been easier on his legs.

"On the stairs at the Bow, every ten or dozen steps you have a landing where you can grab a breath and then you go up another 12 and another landing," he said. "Here, there’s no landing. There’s no breaks."

The chiefs joined dozens of virtual steppers to raise money for Wellspring Calgary. The organization offers non-medical support to cancer patients in southern Alberta.

"We have no core government funding so donations and fundraising events is what help us survive," event manager Karen O’How said. "Our system is wonderful with medical support, but once you finish chemo and you have brain fog and you lose your hair, those are the really difficult effects of cancer."

Neufeld said the organization is a vital in Calgary.

"There’s no one that hasn’t been touched by this," he said. "My mom died when I was just months old of lung cancer, and since then there’s been so many in-laws and parents and even (members of) the CPS (who have been diagnosed)."

Employees say being forced online, however, has meant Wellspring Calgary has taken a hit in donations this year.

If you would like to donate and support the organization’s programming, you can visit