For Linda’s Purple Dragonflies, Boston Fight for Air Climb is About Raising Lung Cancer Awareness

Carmella April Climbs in Memory of her sister, Linda

(November 7, 2012)

The American Lung Association of the Northeast’s 2013 Boston Fight for Air Climb may be three months away, but that hasn’t stopped teams like Linda’s Purple Dragonflies from making preparations for the annual event where they will climb the 41 stories, 82 flights and 789 stairs of One Boston Place.  It’s an event that’s top of mind for this team of 20-plus members all year round.  Why do they climb?  To raise awareness and make a difference in the fight against lung disease – a disease which has claimed the lives of too many Americans, including Carmella April’s sister, Linda, for whom the team is named.

Linda's Purple Dragonflies
Carmella April (left) and her sister Theresa (center) are pictured with their sister, Linda, who they climb in memory of.

For Carmella April, who is the team captain and has participated in the climb for the last two years, this event is particularly meaningful because it is a way to honor her sister, Linda,  who had never smoked, but was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer in 2006 and died from the disease in 2007 at age 53.

April believes that it is important to raise awareness and get the message out to people that never smokers and nonsmokers are not immune to lung cancer. While smoking causes up to 90 percent of all lung cancers and refraining from tobacco use is still the best way to protect oneself from the disease, lung cancer claims the lives of thousands of people each year who never smoked.   

While April doesn’t know with certainty what caused her sister’s cancer, genetic factors can play a role in the likelihood that someone will get lung cancer.  Additionally, it’s estimated that radon causes 10 percent of lung cancers, occupational exposures to carcinogens account for approximately 9 to 15 percent and outdoor air pollution 1 to 2 percent.  No matter what the origin of lung cancer is, it remains one of the most feared cancers since it is such a killer because of the difficulty detecting it in its early stages.  It may take years for the lung cancer to grow, and early on there are usually no symptoms.  By the time the patient starts to notice symptoms, the cancer is often advanced.   This was the case with Linda.

“I think people need to understand that lung cancer isn’t just a smoker’s cancer,” said April. “It’s a disease that can affect smokers and nonsmokers. And it’s the leading cancer killer of men and women, causing more deaths than colon, prostate and breast cancer combined.  All of us should care about funding lung cancer research and all of us should care about making sure the air we breathe is clean and healthy. That’s why I participate in this climb, try to raise awareness and raise money for the American Lung Association.”   

The Fight for Air Climb in Boston is also a way for the April family to remember Linda together.  April lives in New Hampshire and she looks forward to meeting with family members from all over the U.S. at the event to honor Linda. Her sister Theresa travels from Delaware, Linda’s daughter travels from Virginia Beach and other family members come in from Maryland and Connecticut. The team which started as a family team with 5 members in 2011 has grown to a team of family and friends that is 25 members strong. Everyone enjoys the event so much, says April, that they recruit a friend to join them the following year.  The team spans all generations and ranges in age from April’s 10-year-old son to her 62-year-old cousin. 

Linda’s Purple Dragonflies started fundraising early. Back in September, the Ladies Vendors Bingo Night in Portsmouth agreed to donate the proceeds of one of their bingo nights to the team.  Team members have also sold raffle tickets and lollipops to help boost donations. Since the team comes from all across the U.S., they stay in touch by way of the Team Page they created on Facebook.

As for the team’s name, April said it came to her because purple was Linda’s favorite color and she read that while dragonflies live a short life, they live their lives to the fullest.   That’s how she remembers Linda.


“When I am getting out of breath climbing up the stairs of One Boston Place, I remember why I am here and it’s Linda’s spirit that pushes me along,” says April.  “I also love this event because I have met so many other families who’ve been through what I’ve been through.  Being with them at this event and knowing that together we are raising money to support a cause dedicated to preventing this pain in the future is really special.”  

Linda’s Purple Dragonflies is one of more than 170 teams that will be participating in the Fight for Air Climb at One Boston Place on February 2.  The event hopes to raise $365,000 for the Lung Association’s research, education and advocacy on behalf of people with lung cancer and all lung disease.  The event is generously sponsored by CB Richard Ellis, Captivate Network, Poland Spring and 100.7 WZLX, Mix 104.1.   The event is also made possible with the support of national Corporate Team sponsor, Kindred Healthcare

To learn more about the Fight for Air Climb in Boston visit:  http://www.lung.org/pledge-events/ma/boston-climb-fy13/

To join Linda’s Purple Dragonflies of contribute to their team visit: http://action.lung.org/goto/lindapurpledragonfly

To learn more about lung cancer, visit:  http://www.lung.org/lung-disease/lung-cancer/

To learn more about the Lung Association’s Guidance on Lung Cancer Screening:  http://www.lung.org/lung-disease/lung-cancer/lung-cancer-screening-guidelines/