Hundreds of First Responders & Civilians join the American Lung Association for 10th Annual Fight for Air Climb Providence
Local Support for the “Fight For Air” in Providence has Raised Over $1 Million in 10 Years
(March 24, 2018) -
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Over 700 people turned out today for the American Lung Association’s 10th Annual Fight For Air Climb Providence, presented by MetLife Auto & Home. Teams and individuals walked or ran up 44 flights of stairs, or 348 steps, to the top of the Omni Providence Hotel to raise funds and awareness for the Lung Association’s mission to support for lung disease research, advocacy and education. As the organization celebrated its 10th year hosting the “Fight For Air” in Providence, it recognized a fundraising milestone, thanking the local community for raising over $1 million since the start of this event in 2009.
“Rhode Island may be our smallest state, but the people here have the biggest hearts,” said Jeff Seyler, Executive Vice President for the American Lung Association, Northeast Region. “In just 10 years we’ve raised over $1 million right here in Providence, and now, annually this event is pulling in approximately $200,000 every year and attracting hundreds of people who want to help. Those hard earned dollars, raised by our fearless climbers, goes to making sure that people with lung cancer, pulmonary fibrosis, asthma and all types of other lung diseases – in Rhode Island and all over the country - have the support they need when it comes to lung health. We are proud of what we’ve built here, and we are grateful to every climber and volunteer that has been a part of that.”
Climbers included local firefighters and first responders from over 40 fire departments who took part in the Firefighter Challenge, taking on the stairs while wearing full firefighter gear, weighing up to 80 lbs. The horde of over 600 civilian participants was made up of lung cancer survivors, lung disease sufferers, their caretakers and family members, health and fitness professionals and still others who made the climb in honor or in memory of a loved one.
One such participant, Debbie Wiechecki, made the climb in memory of her husband Clem, who died of Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF) this past July. Debbie’s climb to the top of the Omni is her 3rd climb this year, having already completed the “Scale the Strat” event in her hometown, Las Vegas, and the Fight For Air, New Mexico.
“Clem believed in living life to the fullest, and even though climbing all these stairs was never easy, it was worth it to feel like we were fighting back against his disease,” said Wiechecki. “I know he’s proud of me for carrying on and for making a difference in his memory.”
Pulmonary fibrosis (PF) is a chronic and progressive lung disease where the lungs become scarred and stiff making it difficult to breathe. IPF is the most common type of the PF, and it means that the disease has no known cause. Approximately 50,000 new cases of IPF are diagnosed each year.
Wiechecki’s team, Team Clem vs Pulmonary Fibrosis, will head to the top of the Omni Providence not only for Clem, but for a community of people impacted by Pulmonary Fibrosis. Debbie carries photos and a list of names that help motivate her to get to the top of each race.
She continued, “The people with this disease really do fight for air on a daily basis, and their courage gives me the strength to get to the top.” Debbie plans on doing climbs around the country to help raise awareness and funds for the disease in Clem’s memory.
The 2018 event aimed to raised $200,000 for the Lung Association and is one a series of signature fundraising events of the American Lung Association, held in prominent skyscrapers across the country. Fight for Air climbs attract both elite athletes and novice stair climbers. Participants can choose to race, run, or walk up the stairs. All proceeds from the 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 American Lung Association’s 10th Annual Fight For Air Climb Providence, presented by MetLife Auto & Home, was also sponsored by WJAR NBC 10, iHeartMedia, B101, Amica, Whole Foods Market, Absolute Respiratory Care, IGT, Omni Hotels & Resorts, & Union Station Brewery.
About the American Lung Association
The American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease, through research, education and advocacy. The work of the American Lung Association is focused on four strategic imperatives: to defeat lung cancer; to improve the air we breathe; to reduce the burden of lung disease on individuals and their families; and to eliminate tobacco use and tobacco-related diseases. For more information about the American Lung Association, a holder of the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Guide Seal, or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNGUSA (1-800-586-4872) or visit: Lung.org.