Yale Graduate Student to ‘Scale 360 State Street’ for Lung Association to Honor Dear Friend Who Lost Her Battle With Lung Cancer

Climbers take to the stairs this February in downtown New Haven

(December 21, 2012)

On February 9, climbers will take to the 413 stairs of 360 State Street in downtown New Haven to support the American Lung Association of the Northeast. People climb the stairs for different reasons; some do so for loved ones who suffer from or have passed away from lung disease; some do so for a new type of fitness challenge; and still, some do so because they too are living with lung disease. Kerry Ann Dobies, a Yale School of Public Health graduate student, is climbing not just to support the Lung Association’s efforts to eradicate lung disease, but to honor a dear friend who lost her battle with lung cancer in 2011.

From 2005-2006, Kerry was part of a study abroad program in Paris. She was hosted by a woman named Catherine Brunel whom she ultimately came to consider as a second mother. Catherine was what Kerry described as a heavy smoker. She was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2008. Three short years later, Catherine lost her battle with the disease. She was just shy of her 65th birthday.

“[Catherine] was an incredibly dynamic French woman, warm and welcoming, an amazing cook, hostess of parties, a dear friend and second mother to me as I navigated the enchanting but unfamiliar waters of Paris. She was a woman of art, culture, and style, and could turn any outfit from simple to chic with the wrap of a scarf,” remembers Dobies.

“I was able to visit with Catherine again for a week in November 2009, and although I knew of her cancer, I didn't realize that it would be the last time I'd see her,” said Dobies. Lung cancer affects an estimated 380,000 Americans and its 5-year survival rate is just 15 percent. While smoking remains the leading cause of disease and premature death, only 40% of new lung cancer cases are current smokers, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The American Lung Association is working tirelessly to reduce lung cancer’s stigma.

The New Haven Fight for Air Climb is a fundraising event to benefit the American Lung Association of the Northeast. Participants must raise a minimum of $100 by event day. The money raised supports the Lung Association’s mission by helping to fund valuable research, education, and advocacy. Donations can be made on behalf of Kerry at climbofyourlife.org.

Online registration is open until February 7; climbers are responsible for a $35 registration fee. An afterparty and awards ceremony will immediately follow the climb at O’Tooles Irish Pub & Restaurant, 157 Orange Street, New Haven. “Scale 360 State Street” is generously sponsored by 360 State Street, AMP Radio Network, Radio 104.1 WMRQ, WFSB Channel 3, Verizon Wireless, Elm City Market and Poland Spring. Kindred Healthcare is the American Lung Association’s national Corporate Team sponsor.

Kerry Ann Dobies
Catherine and Kerry in Catherine's Paris apartment (2005)