Groton Fire Department Ready for 10th Annual Fight for Air Climb Boston | American Lung Association

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Groton Fire Department Ready for 10th Annual Fight for Air Climb Boston

(November 17, 2014) -

The American Lung Association will return to Boston for its tenth annual on Saturday, February 7, 2015 at the BNY Mellon Financial Center, one of the tallest buildings in the city.  About 2,000 climbers are expected, including over 500 firefighters who will compete in a separate .  Among the 500 firefighters tackling the 789 stairs will be Lt. James Crocker and members of the Groton Fire Department.  Lt. Crocker and his team have been climbing in the event for the last five years.

 “We’re a competitive group and this event offers us plenty of opportunity to be involved in some healthy competition,” says Lt. Crocker who lives in Westford.  “Not only do we compete against ourselves and each other in terms of time, we’re competitive when it comes to raising money for the cause.  I think just about every person out there knows someone who has a lung disease or has lung cancer.  This is an important cause that we’re passionate about giving our all to.”

This year the Groton Fire Department has eight team members registered for the climb but Lt. Crocker says he’s expecting more to sign up.  One of the firefighters/EMTs climbing this year is Tim Cunningham of Groton who suffers from asthma.  Another firefighter climbing with the team for the first time is Rob VanSchalkwyk ,also of Groton, who will be climbing in memory of loved ones lost to lung disease.   

VanShalkwyk says his grandfather fell victim to COPD and battled through it day in and day out.  His grandmother also battled COPD as well as other lung issues, including pneumonia.  VanSchalkwyk remembers her spending the last years of her life on home oxygen.

“Lung diseases like COPD are diseases that affect people for a very long time,” says VanSchalkwyk, who also has several friends who suffer from asthma. “I am grateful to be able to climb to help support people in the community with lung disease and support my fellow firefighters who’ve been climbing in this event and raising funds to support the cause for years.”

Lt. Crocker, who is the team’s captain, says that each year the Groton Fire Department’s team grows in numbers and in funds raised.  The team has already raised more than other fire departments three months before the event.  And while climbing 789 stairs dressed in full firefighter gear is no easy feat, Lt. Crocker says it is all worth it.

"In addition to family members and friends, many of us take care of patients that suffer from lung disease. As firefighters we see people every day who struggle to breathe because of lung issues,”   says Lt. Crocker.  “The feeling of everyone coming together at this event to fight lung disease and support those who are suffering is really something special. It’s a good time for a good cause.

The tenth annual “Race Up Boston Place” is generously sponsored by Immunogen Inc.  and Boston Private Bank and Trust Co., who are the event’s supporting sponsors, and CB Richard Ellis.  The event is also made possible with the support of national Corporate Team partner, Kindred Healthcare.

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. To register, learn more about the Race Up Boston Place or to make a donation to help save lives, visit the event website at To support the Groton Fire Department Team in their Fight for Air visit  Questions about the event, how to form a team or how to become involved in the Firefighter Challenge can be directed to Event Manager Erin Hickey-Reardon at or 781.314.9005.

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