Riverina cop and retained firefighter Rob Vergano climbs for MND research

Climb for a cause: Retained firefighter and Wagga police inspector Rob Vergano will climb to great heights for MND, a cause close to his heart. Picture: Les Smith

Climb for a cause: Retained firefighter and Wagga police inspector Rob Vergano will climb to great heights for MND, a cause close to his heart. Picture: Les Smith

One Wagga cop has spent years keeping the community safe, catching crooks and battling blazes.

But this year, police Inspector and retained firefighter Rob Vergano will rush to the aid of a charity and fight for a cause that hits close to home. 

Mr Vergano joining fellow firefighters as they raise money and awareness for Motor Neuron Disease (MND), climbing the Sydney Tower Eye in October.

“My wife’s cousin has MND (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis),” Mr Vergano said. “That’s the driving motivation for me.”

In full fire-fighting gear, Mr Vergano will climb 1504 stairs – 98 flights – hoping each step and every dollar will bring a cure a little closer.

“(MND) doesn’t discriminate and it’s an absolutely devastating thing to watch,” he said. “There’s no cure … no respite.”

Mr Vergano said he hoped to beat the 19-minute personal best he achieved, while ascending the tower with fellow Corrimal crew members last year.

Mr Vergano will raise as much money as possible for a friend, a fellow Vikings footballer and his cousin-in-law, Sharn McNeill.

Mrs McNeill was diagnosed in 2013. The former Iron Woman competitor and registered nurse was just 30 years old at the time. Mr Vergano said Mrs McNeill was now in palliative care. 

“Her husband’s an ambo and they’re battling,” Mr Vergano said. “It shows extreme resilience to go through it all and still smile.” 

He said the degenerative disease could strike anyone, anytime and more money was always needed to help Macquarie University research the cause and develop an effective treatment. 

“I do it for personal reasons but also for a lot of other reasons,” Mr Vergano said. “Extremely healthy people have been given a life sentence.”

The Fire and Rescue NSW member welcomed others to “jump on board” the Firies Climb this year. 

In addition to his firefighting feat, the city police inspector is also working with fellow officers to raise money and awareness for brain cancer research this month.

Inspector Vergano said the illness was one of the least understood and most underfunded of all cancers.

He said Wagga police would wear their beanies and light a barbecue, inviting other emergency service members to join them on Tuesday, June 27.