Firefighters from Maine Travel to Boston in Support of the American Lung Association of the Northeast

Stairclimb event supports nonprofit’s research, education and advocacy efforts

(October 29, 2013)

The American Lung Association returns to Boston for its ninth annual Fight for Air Climb: Race Up Boston Place on Saturday, February 1, 2014. About 2,000 climbers are expected, including over 500 firefighters, to tackle the 789 stairs of One Boston Place, one of the tallest buildings in the city, all to raise money in the fight against lung disease. Among those 500 firefighters will be Nate Bennett and the team coming all the way from Scarborough, Maine.

Nate Bennett, 37, of Scarborough, will be traveling to Boston with the Scarborough Fire Department for the third year in 2014. This year is the first year he serves as team captain. For Nate, Race Up Boston Place is a truly personal cause. Not only does Bennett climb because as a firefighter, “people in my profession share an inherent increased risk for lung disease due to the environments that we are exposed to while doing our job,” but he also has family members who have suffered from lung disease.

Nate Bennett
Nate Bennett (L) with teammates Andy Clark and Erin Sandler in 2013

Both Bennett’s mother and grandmother are a source of motivation for him as he prepares to climb the 789 stairs of One Boston Place. His mother has suffered from asthma for about two decades which, Bennett says, makes her cough quite frequently. His grandmother, who was diagnosed with lung cancer just eight months before she passed several years ago, had never smoked. Bennett says it important to keep his loved ones in the back of his mind to remind him why the American Lung Association’s work is so important.

The Scarborough FD team has grown with each year. The first year they started with just 12 members; last year they expanded to 17. Bennett expects more climbers to register in the coming months. The Scarborough Fire Department was first introduced to the event by the Portland Fire Department’s team, who are longtime climbers in Boston. The two teams even share a training space. Franklin Towers, a 16-story high-rise building in Portland, is the tallest building in the state of Maine and a favorite practice space for the teams from both Scarborough and Portland. Bennett says the teams train both together and individually whenever they can. 

Last year, the Scarborough Fire Department’s team raised $9,920, the most money of all 224 teams that participated in the 2013 Boston Fight for Air Climb. Bennett himself raised more than $1,300. He credits the community of Scarborough for the team’s success in fundraising. “We really just went out there campaigned,” says Bennett. “In our profession, we get a lot of face-to-face time with members of our community. Obviously our friends and family members have been a great support but also local businesses and other members of the greater Scarborough community. Through this process, you find that almost everyone has been impacted by lung disease at some point in their life.”

Bennett expects similar fundraising success this year. He believes it is important to set goals for yourself, both in training and fundraising, and then try to surpass those goals each year. When asked about any additional advice he might offer others who will participate for the first time he adds, “try to make sure you have fun.”

“Each year in Boston we are blown away by the support we receive, not just from the greater Boston community and the state of Massachusetts but also from those who travel great distances to be a part of the day,” said Jeff Seyler, President & CEO of the American Lung Association of the Northeast. “We are so grateful to everyone who has helped to make the Boston stair climb the second largest in the nation.  All the support we receive enables  the American Lung Association of the Northeast to help so many families who are struggling with lung disease.”

November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month. Lung cancer is the leading cancer killer of Americans, responsible for more deaths in the United than breast, colon and prostate - combined.  Lung cancer is not just a smoker’s disease; each day 78 people who have never smoked die from lung cancer. The American Lung Association is working hard to eliminate the stigma that lung cancer carries and believes that no one deserves lung cancer. Visit LungNE.org for more on what the American Lung Association is doing to combat lung cancer and to support those who are diagnosed with the disease.

All proceeds from the Boston Fight for Air Climb will directly fund lung disease research, advocacy and education; including smoking cessation programs, COPD/asthma management, and advocacy for stronger clean air standards. Last year, Race Up Boston Place raised almost $444,000 to support the mission of the American Lung Association.

“Race Up Boston Place” is sponsored by CB Richard Ellis, ImmunoGen, Inc., DSCI, Lahey Health, Kindred Hospital Boston and Whole Foods Market. The event is also made possible with the support of national Corporate Team partner, Kindred Healthcare.  To learn more about Race Up Boston Place, or to make a donation that could save lives, visit ClimbofYourLife.org.