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From Severe Asthma to Dominating Nashville’s Vertical Mile

Tennessee man overcomes serious lung disease to compete in Fight For Air Climb Nashville

(September 10, 2019) - NASHVILLE, Tenn.

For more information please contact:

Jill Thompson
[email protected]

One of Matt Miller’s earliest memories was sitting in an oxygen tent at the hospital when he was only two years old because of his asthma. His entire life he has faced severe asthma and allergies, but now, he is defying this lung disease to complete the vertical mile race at the Fight For Air Climb at the 505 in Nashville.

Miller has had asthma for as long as he can remember. His asthma is trigged by allergies and environmental conditions, including grass, pollen, mold, cats and dogs, dust mites, perfumes, smoke, scented candles, and more.

“My childhood and teenage years were marked by numerous asthma attacks that would result in having to stay home from school for a week at a time. That happened more times than I can count,” he said. “For the worst ones I recall, the airway restriction and lack of air would limit my ability to speak more than one-two words at a time and then I’d have to stop and take several breaths before I could speak the next few words. It can be very frightening.”

In 1999, Miller had an asthma attack that changed the course of his life. At that point, his lung capacity was at only 60% based on the FEV1 spirometry statistic.

“By 2008 my lung capacity was down to 45%. I also received life-changing advice that I needed to get as much cardiovascular exercise as I could every single day if I wanted to retain the lung capacity I had remaining,” said Miller. “In 2013 I was diagnosed with moderate irreversible lung damage as a result of my severe asthma and allergies being so difficult to control for so many years.”

After living with asthma his whole life, it was his company, Messer Construction, which first encouraged Miller to get involved with the community.  He chose to contact the American Lung Association and signed up for the Fight For Air Climb in Nashville.

On November 2, Miller will participate in his fifth Fight For Air Climb and his second vertical mile, which is 10 times climbing up and 10 times climbing down the 505 building, which is 45 floors, 862 steps. Last year, it took Miller three hours and seven minutes to complete the vertical mile.

The vertical mile is an enormous feat for anyone, but especially someone with lung damage and severe asthma.

“I’m proving that asthma is avoidable, and that asthmatics can lead a very active life. It can be done,” said Miller. “It is possible to lead an active life with asthma if you understand your condition and what triggers it and avoid those triggers to the greatest extent. It takes discipline to learn your condition.”

He has gotten so good at avoiding his asthma triggers, he started a YouTube channel called “Avoiding Asthma.” Through several videos, he provides tips on how to lead an active lifestyle with severe asthma and allergies.

“I’ve been supporting the American Lung Association for several years now because their efforts support research and development of treatments for asthmatics,” he said. “I want to give back to the asthma and allergy sufferers.”

The Fight For Air Climb invites individuals, families, groups of friends, corporate teams and first responders to race up the stairs of one of the tallest building in Nashville, the 505 Building (45 floors, 862 steps), to raise awareness and money to fight lung disease. The event also includes an option for climbers to tackle the Vertical Mile, which is a total of 10 times up and 10 times down the 505 building. 

Following the Fight For Air Climb event, the Lung Association will host an after-party on Church Street, which will include local beer, live music and fun for the whole family. Registration for the 2019 Fight For Air Climb is currently open online or by calling 615-510-3552.


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:

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