150 Firefighters Join Hundreds of Local Families for American Lung Association’s 8th Annual Fight For Air Climb Buffalo
Participants Climbed 37 Flights of Stairs to Raise Funds and Awareness for Lung Disease
(March 10, 2018) - BUFFALO, N.Y.
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Over 600 people turned out today for the American Lung Association’s 8th Annual Fight For Air Climb Buffalo, presented by Buffalo Medical Group. Teams and individuals walked or ran up 37 flights of stairs, or 800 steps, to the top of the Seneca One Tower to raise funds and awareness for the Lung Association’s mission to support for lung disease research, advocacy and education. This year’s location offered participants nearly double the amount of steps from last year.
Climbers included 150 local firefighters and first responders from fire departments throughout the western New York region who took part in the Firefighter Challenge, taking on the stairs while wearing full firefighter gear, weighing up to 50 lbs. The horde of over 400 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, firefighter Daniel Kepple, made the climb in memory of his wife, Susan Kepple, His team – Kenilworth Fire Company – raised over $2,000. He said, “This year is especially difficult do to the loss of my partner in life, my wife Susan Kepple. She suffered with asthma for 50 years. She progressed to COPD and struggled with her condition but never let it stop her from doing what she wanted to do. She may have done it slower or in her wheelchair but she did what she said she would do. She had a heart of gold and would help anyone in need. I dedicate my climb to her memory.”
Robert Zielinski, a medical oncologist for Buffalo Medical Group and captain of the BMG team, is participating in his third Fight for Air Climb Buffalo, and second in memory of his wife, Linda Zielinski, who died from idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis in 2016. Dr. Zielinski said, “Once Linda realized that her options were so limited, she wanted to move the science forward for others, even if she would never see the benefits herself. The BMG team that shows up to this event with me every year – and the thousands of dollars we’ve raised to support research for lung disease has become her legacy – and I think she’d be very proud of that.” Dr. Zielinksi is the leading individual fundraiser for the 2018 Climb.
“We are grateful to all of our participants who support our Fight For Air Climbs – but we are always especially touched to be joined by our first responders and those families that have been personally impacted by lung disease,” said Jeff Seyler, President and CEO of the American Lung Association in the Northeast region. “When we look at the community built around the American Lung Association and take stock all the people and families that rely on the work we do, we are reminded that a world without lung disease is one worth fighting for.”
The event aimed to raise $186,000 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 8th Annual Fight For Air Climb Buffalo, presented by Buffalo Medical Group, was also made possible with the support of Basil Family of Dealerships, Entercom Buffalo, WGRZ, NFTA and Buffalo News REFRESH.
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 coveted 4-star rating from Charity Navigator and a Gold-Level GuideStar Member, or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNGUSA (1-800-586-4872) or visit: Lung.org.
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