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Kathleen S., WI

I wrote this and it was published in the Local 494 IBEW Relay in the May 2021 issue.

Breath is Life!

On May 22, Local 494 will sponsor a team to climb the steps, safely outdoors, at Milwaukee’s American Family Field. This event is a fundraiser to support the American Lung Association.

Too many of our members, friends and family have suffered from lung injuries and diseases. It’s our chance to do something about it.

We all know someone who has been affected. Here is one story.

This time last year, I visited my Uncle Ron Kercheck for the last time. Always proud to be a 494 IBEW electrician, he lay peacefully in a bed at the Toma VA, getting oxygen thru a tube near his nose.

His family gathered, knowing he was dying of mesothelioma, most likely from his work on a Navy submarine and his years in construction and maintenance. Years of exposure to asbestos and silica had destroyed his lungs and he was slowly suffocating. His family had gathered, knowing he did not have much time left. We talked about the good times, and then his kids and wife said good bye, but we didn’t know if he could hear us. I thought of the funny stories he told, evidence of how he enjoyed his work, and how his life was coming to a sad end. He was a good patriot and a good electrician and it was not right, to die of a preventable injury.

If only workers had been told of the dangers! If they had been told how to protect themselves, many lives would have been saved. Much was known many years ago, but the cost of protection was deemed too high. That is why we have to support efforts of the American Lung Association; they fight to protect the most basic need, the need to breathe.

If you can’t breathe, you can’t live.

To register for the climb, search for climb for air Milwaukee. You can call this number or call the hall.

Lizzie Covington

[email protected]


This is a 494 family event, and ALL FEES are paid by our local. Team tee shirts provided by 494.

Hope to see you!

First Published: June 15, 2021

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