Woman Raises over $30,000 for American Lung Association Fight For Air Climb
(January 20, 2016) -
Laurie McInerney's family has a long history with lung disease. Her father died of lung cancer in 1989, her mother died of COPD in 2006, and her brother died of lung cancer in 2012.
And while these tragedies would be enough to break the average person, Laurie is using her grief and love for her family to help others. Over the past 5 years, she has climbed the Carew Tower as part of the American Lung Association's Fight for Air Climb, raising over $30,000 to support people living with lung disease.
"It hits very close to home. That's why I got involved with the American Lung Association and started climbing," Laurie explained. "My sister and I try to be active and see our doctor, but you know, there's only so much we can do. It's in the family. So doing the climb and raising money is my way to trying to put a stop to it."
After her father's death, the dangers of smoking became very real for the family. "We thought, 'Well, it's because of the smoking.' Everyone smoked back then. And there's a real stigma about it. But you know, no one deserves what he went through, or what my mom went through, or what my brother went through." The family eventually quit smoking, but the damage was done. Her mother was diagnosed with COPD in 1996.
"That was really hard. My mom used to tell me, 'Try to breathe through a straw – that's how much air I get.' I always think about that when I'm climbing and getting tried and out of breath. She had to live for 10 years without air."
But the most difficult battle was her brother, Bill's fight with lung cancer. "Bill was very good at whatever he chose to do. As long as he had the facts, he could find a solution to whatever the problem was. Cancer got in the way, but you would never have known watching him." Bill battled the cancer through endless rounds of chemotherapy, radiation, and a surgery to remove one of his lungs, but eventually lost his battle in 2012.
"Bill is my motivation. We were so close. We did everything together. I know that when I go and climb those stairs, he's climbing with me."
Jenny Southers, Executive Director at the American Lung Association in Ohio's Cincinnati office, says that Laurie's spirit and passion represent everything that the event hopes to accomplish. "Laurie is an inspiration to the Cincinnati Fight for Air Climb and her enthusiasm is contagious to all that know her. She has taken her family's tragedies and made a difference in the lives of all those affected by a lung disease. Her fundraising efforts are above and beyond what we could expect and have made the difference in our how the Cincinnati Fight for Air Climb has been able to be so successful."
Although Laurie sets goals for each climb she does, she says the only goal that matters is helping others. "I'm hoping that in 5 years, 10 years, no one will have to go through what my mom went through, what my brother went through."
For more information and to register for the Cincinnati Fight for Air Climb, visit www.ClimbTheCarew.org.