Michael Pandora of Granby Fights for Air with the American Lung Association

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

(October 31, 2013)

The American Lung Association returns to Springfield for its sixth anniversary Fight for Air Climb on Saturday, November 9.  Climbers, including teams of firefighters, will tackle the 24 floors of One Monarch Place in downtown Springfield all to raise money in the fight against lung disease. Lieutenant Michael Pandora of the Granby Fire Department, 54, will climb with the department for the third time in Springfield. Pandora, who suffers from asthma, lost more than 100 pounds following his first Fight for Air Climb with the American Lung Association.

Mike Pandora before
Pandora, March 2012 in Springfield

Pandora registered for last year’s Fight for Air Climb, which took place in March, with a group of twelve others. “Half of why I signed up initially was because I have asthma and the other half was because I really wanted to take the Firefighter Challenge and climb in full gear,” said Pandora of his first stairclimb. He admits that first year was tough but he pushed himself and made it to the top in thirty-six minutes.

Pandora calls his inaugural Fight for Air Climb “eye-opening.” It was after that initial stairclimb that Pandora decided to get in better shape. He promptly started a diet and exercise regimen which included walking and eventually running. By the time he climbed for the second time just eight months later in November, Pandora was more than 100 pounds lighter. This time he reached the top of One Monarch Place in just six and a half minutes. This past month, Pandora ran his first ever marathon, the ING Hartford Marathon in Hartford, Connecticut, on October 12.

Pandora, diagnosed with asthma more than 20 years ago, uses medications prescribed by his doctor to control his symptoms. He says that after losing the weight, “he can certainly breathe better.” Pandora, a lifelong nonsmoker, is unsure why he is living with the disease, but does feel that his exposure to secondhand smoke as an adolescent played a role. Both of Pandora’s parents smoked when he was growing up. He lost his mother to lung cancer just last year and keeps her in his thoughts as he prepares and climbs with the American Lung Association.

“Michael’s story is such an inspiration,” said Jeff Seyler, President & CEO of the American Lung Association of the Northeast. “Our stairclimb events help promote a healthy and active lifestyle and we encourage everyone to get involved - the whole family. At the American Lung Association our motto is, we climb because we can; we climb for those who struggle to breathe because of lung disease and air pollution. The money raised will bring us closer to our goal of a world free of lung disease.”

Mike Pandora after
Mike Pandora, 54, present day

When asked what advice he could offer to others as a veteran climber, Pandora said, “Slow and steady is really the key. Set a good pace for yourself and you will be able to finish.”

Pandora will be climbing One Monarch Place with the Granby Fire Department, which has 22 team members registered to climb on event day. To date, the team has raised over $2,000 for the 2013 Springfield Fight for Air Climb. All proceeds from the Springfield 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.

The Springfield Fight for Air Climb is sponsored by Monarch Place, Kelser Corporation, Health New England, Bertera Subaru, ESPN 1450 AM, WWLP 22 News, 94.7 WMAS and Poland Spring. The event is also made possible with the support of national Corporate Team partner, Kindred Healthcare. 

To learn more about the Fight for Air Climb in Springfield, or to make a donation that could save lives, visit ClimbofYourLife.org. Online registration closes on November 7.