Joanne Dooley Climbs with American Lung Association to Honor Loved Ones with Lung Disease

Stairclimb event supports research, education and advocacy efforts

(November 13, 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 city’s tallest buildings - all to raise money in the fight against lung disease. Joanne Dooley, the event’s second highest fundraiser for 2013, will return for her second year as a participant.

Joanne Dooley, 40, of Tewksbury, is climbing as part of the team that calls themselves “Breath of Fresh Air.” As a former smoker who has been smokefree for two years and as someone who suffers from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), Dooley knows all too well what it is like to struggle for breath.

On her personal fundraising page, Dooley pays homage to all those she loves who have suffered from lung disease. “I am doing this climb in memory of my grandmothers, my grandfather and for my uncles who lost their battles. I do this climb in honor of my loved ones still living and fighting theirs... for my aunt who has emphysema, for my friends and family members with asthma, for my friend Brian who will celebrate his 5th "birthday" in December with his new lungs due to cystic fibrosis (CF), for my friend Pam's father who lost his battle this year. I do this climb for the stories I have yet to hear and the people I have yet to meet. I do this climb to honor the people my supporters love, admire and miss.”

The Fight for Air Climb in Boston earlier this year attracted more than 1,700 climbers and raised $440,000; it is the second largest American Lung Association Fight for Air Climb in the country. Joanne Dooley, who raised $2,525, was the second highest fundraiser overall in Boston. She credits her success to social networking. By sharing her story on her Facebook page, Dooley says she received countless donations ranging from $5 to $250. “Almost everyone I know has been touched by lung disease in some way,” said Dooley. She also highlights the importance of thanking every person that helped her along the way. Last year, Dooley wore a homemade t-shirt with the names of all who donated; the back of the t-shirt read, “Thanks for having my back.”

When it comes to event day, Dooley advises two things; “Make it fun” and “Take your time and keep on climbing.” She is getting a head start on training for the February climb by practicing at the Bunker Hill Monument in Boston, which she says is open to the public seven days a week. Dooley believes that anyone can do the climb if they take the time to prepare. This past weekend, she climbed the 294 steps with her sister Kerry and her 76-year-old father Jim.

“Joanne is like millions of others who struggle to breathe because of lung disease and she is a true hero for not only taking on one of Boston’s largest skyscrapers, but for talking so candidly about the toll lung disease can take patients and their families,” said Jeff Seyler, President & CEO of the American Lung Association of the Northeast. “November marks both Lung Cancer and COPD Awareness Month and we commend Joanne for sharing her story so that others may take comfort and follow in her footsteps.”

COPD is the third leading cause of death in the U.S. and affects an estimated 24 million Americans, with about half of its sufferers remaining undiagnosed. The American Lung Association reported in their latest health disparity report, “Taking her Breath Away: The Rise of COPD in Women,” that women are 37 percent more likely to develop COPD than men and that more than half of COPD deaths in the United States occur in women. The full report is available at

To make a donation to the American Lung Association and help Joanne Dooley reach her goal, visit her personal fundraising page at 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.

“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.  

Climbers, volunteers, and friends and family members are invited back to Scholars Bistro following the climb, a short walk from the event venue, for the afterparty and awards ceremony. To register as a Race Up Boston Place climber or volunteer, or to learn more, visit                                                           Joanne Dooley frontJoanne Dooley back