Monday, March 23, 2015

Week 26: Fight for Air Climb

This* is the Milwaukee skyline as seen from Lake Michigan.  The tall building on the left is the US Bank building, the tallest building in Wisconsin.  Saturday afternoon I climbed its 47 floors of stairs...and I lived to tell about it.

The Fight for Air Climb fundraising events, like the one I took part in, is coordinated by the American Lung Association to raise the funds necessary to provide life-saving education, research and advocacy to help people beat lung disease and find for research to find a cure.  

There was an excited atmosphere in the US Bank building Saturday morning when I arrived for my start time.  I was drawn to the large group of firefighters who had just finished their climb in full gear.

You see, on the morning of 9/11 and the days/weeks/months/years that have followed, like everyone else, I have thought about the people on the planes and those in the buildings that were hit and the loved ones they left behind. But as a daughter of a firefighter, I think about the firefighters, the men and women climbing UP the stairs as everyone else rushed down. Their heroism and sacrifice leaves me speechless. 

The other motivation for my climb on Saturday was my grandma.  She was my biggest fan and gave the best back scratches. Her and my grandpa kept their house stocked with my favorite foods and drinks to enjoy post-tennis matches and took me shopping for a new school outfit each year. She had flawless style and like me, was uncomfortable sitting "normal" in a chair. She passed away from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease almost 22 years ago. I cannot believe I've now lived more than half of my life without her.

These were the people I thought of as I climbed and climbed and climbed up the 1,034 steps and they were the people who inspired me to motivate others on my way up.

"This was a terrible idea!" a woman exclaimed to me as I approached floor 35.  I stopped and looked at her and said, "We only have 12 more floors to go."  "That makes me feel sick to my stomach," she retorted.  I took a breath and said, "But look back...we've climbed 35 floors already!  And this building will be here for ages to come and we can always look at it and say, 'I did THAT!'  You can do this!  Keep climbing!"

I saw her at the top when I was talking to my mom on the phone, checking in to tell her I made it.  We exchanged a knowing smile as she walked past.  

After stopping to take a handful of pictures, pausing for a couple of glasses of water, and to offer a few short pep talks, my official finishing time was 15 minutes and 34 seconds. Not too shabby. 

If you'd like to volunteer or participate in this "vertical road race," visit the American Lung Association site to find an event in a prominent skyscraper, stadium or arena near you.

Registration for the Fight for Air Climb events consists of a $25 registration fee and a minimum fundraising goal of $100.  Individuals, organizations and companies can also form teams with a fundraising goal of $1,000.

I'm pleased to say that I raised $150 in donations for the American Lung Association as this week's Kindness Countdown activity.

"There is no elevator to have to take the stairs." - Zig Ziglar

* The Milwaukee skyline photograph is by Aaron C. Jors and can be purchased on his webiste at

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