South Portland Firefighter Climbs in Honor of his Friend Battling Cystic Fibrosis at Lung Association's 10th Annual Fight for Air Climb
(December 16, 2014) -
Tobey Farrington has been participating in the American since 2013 and organizes the South Portland Professional Firefighters IAFF Local 1476 team. He started recruiting South Portland firefighters to participate in the climb after learning about the event’s popular from firefighters in the Portland and Scarborough departments that had participated in previous years. South Portland’s team is made up of not just firefighters, but their friends and even their spouses, including Tobey’s wife Karen, who all are committed to climbing and raising funds to support the Lung Association’s mission.
“The area firefighters are a tightly knit group,” says Farrington. “We all know one another, whether we’re in the same department or in neighboring departments. After learning about the event, I thought this would be a fun and challenging way for the members of our department to build camaraderie, stay in shape, and raise some money for a great cause. We are all EMT’s or paramedics so we see a lot of people with health issues like asthma, COPD, emphysema, lung cancer, and bronchitis. This stair climb not only helps raise awareness but the funds needed to fight lung disease.”
Farrington’s climb is much more personal as well. Shawn Murphy, Farrington’s longtime friend, lacrosse teammate, and Delta Chi fraternity brother from their days at the University of Southern Maine, became dependent on continuous oxygen due to the progression of cystic fibrosis. The disease forced Murphy to give up participating in the sports he loved and eventually threatened his life. Farrington says Murphy’s experience opened his eyes to the impact decreased lung function can have on a person’s life. When Farrington suits up with the South Portland team to tackle the 789 stairs at the BNY Mellon Center on February 7, Murphy will be on his mind.
Cystic fibrosis (CF) is an inherited disease that causes thick, sticky mucus to form in the lungs, pancreas and other organs. In the lungs, this mucus blocks the airways, causing lung damage and making it hard to breathe.
“Thankfully he received a lung transplant in 2013 and he is doing much better now. Murphy’s first love has always been hockey and the transplant has enabled him to skate again. He’s even officiating games this winter!” says Farrington. “Unfortunately there are many people who struggle just to breathe and whose ability to perform normal everyday activities is hampered because of a lung disease. That’s why participating in this climb and raising the necessary funds is so important to the firefighters.”
The Firefighter Challenge at the Fight for Air Climb in Boston is one of the largest in the country, attracting over 500 firefighters from 75 departments across the Northeast and beyond. The challenge inspires firefighters to test their own limits while competing against themselves and one another all to raise money to fight lung disease. Awards are given for the fastest individual firefighters and the fastest teams. Farrington takes pride in the fact that so many departments from the state of Maine participate in the event and are consistently ranked among the fastest climbers. In 2014, the three fastest fire department teams were all from Maine and the South Portland team placed third.
“The South Portland Fire Department team is looking forward to the Race up Boston Place,” says Farrington. “We are proud to be a part of this challenging event. It makes us feel good about being firefighters and it makes us feel good about doing something to fight lung disease and promote better lung health.”
The American Lung Association’s tenth annual will take place on Saturday, February 7, 2015. The event draws more than 2,000 participants including over 500 firefighters from across the Northeast and beyond. The “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 fighting 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 fightforairclimb.org . To support Tobey Farrington and the South Portland Fire Department in their fight for air visit http://go.lungne.org/SouthPortlandFD2015. 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 bostonclimb@LungNE.org or 781.314.9005.