Sunday, March 8, 2020

Week 29: Climbing High for Deep Breaths

Have you heard of Fight For Air Climb fundraisers hosted by the American Lung Association

They're large group climbs up very tall buildings that raise money to help make a positive impact on lung health in our country.

The events are near and dear to my heart for both the money raised to help fight lung disease and  because of the very high climbs.

As a teen, I watched my grandma suffer from emphysema and the complications that arose as a result (one of the many reasons I have never tried smoking). Losing her love, the incredibly pure and unconditional kind grandparents are capable of, was heart-breaking and life-changing. 

As the daughter of a (now-retired) fire captain, when I heard the news of the first plane crashing on 9/11, my heart went out to the firefighters, knowing the elevators would be out, knowing they had to climb the stairs in full gear to do what they do best: help those in need. And then the other plane crashed. And then they all came tumbling down. 

At each Fight For Air Climb, you'll see both families climbing in memory or honor of loved ones impacted by lung disease and emergency personnel climbing in their full gear in memory of their fallen brothers and sisters. 

This is the 4th year I've participated in the Milwaukee event and I was once again touched by each and every one of the thousands of participants. The energy is incredible, the people are so kind, and the money raised is amazing!

Before being cleared to climb the 47 flights (1,034 steps) of the US Bank building in Milwaukee, each participant needs to raise a minimum of $200. I'm proud to say the total raised this year was over $635,000! And I'd also like to take a moment to thank everyone who donated to help me climb: THANK YOU!!!

I finished the climb in just under 13 minutes this year, no where near my personal best of 10:31, but it's what I expected going in without any training. I'm dealing with some health issues and went into the climb knowing I'd allow myself a few minor breaks to catch my breath and let my heart rate slow - I'm not always so kind to myself in competitively timed situations, and I didn't like it one bit. ;)

But I made it to the top, took in the amazing views and swapped picture-taking time with some of the people I chatted with while waiting for our group to start (Hi, Dawn!), and then the coolest thing happened: I ran into a group of young firefighters from my dad's old department!

They invited me over for a cup of coffee in their new station, "We have an espresso machine now!" they proudly bragged. I'll definitely be taking them up on the offer!

It was a great event, run as smoothly as ever, and left all of us climbers looking forward to doing it again next year! Come join us!

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