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Iowa Resident to Climb Towers while Battling Stage 4 COPD

(March 19, 2019) - DES MOINES, Iowa

For more information please contact:

Jill Thompson
[email protected]

On April 7, Iowa resident Brian Bodenberger will participate in the Fight For Air Climb presented by EMC Insurance Companies in Downtown Des Moines with hundreds of local residents, corporate teams and firefighters. What makes Bodenberger stand out is that he will climb carrying an oxygen concentrator because he suffers from stage 4 chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

After several months of coughing and being short of breath, Bodenberger was diagnosed with emphysema in 2000. Shortly after, he was diagnosed with COPD, a chronic, progressive lung disease that makes it difficult to breathe. The disease forced him to retire from his career as a correctional officer.

“I was coughing, short of breath and had asthma on top of it,” said Bodenberger about his COPD symptoms.

Although his COPD progressed to stage 4 six years ago, Bodenberger kept his active lifestyle. He was an avid runner and began cycling. He has competed in the Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa (RAGBRAI) several times.

“I push myself pretty hard. Last year, I tried riding without oxygen and I did RAGBRAI with only 24 percent lung capacity,” he said. “I started having to sleep with oxygen, so I attached an oxygen concentrator to my bike.”

Now, Bodenberger’s workout is on the Stairmaster in preparation for the 16th annual Fight For Air Climb in Downtown Des Moines.

“I participate so people will see how bad smoking is for you and what it can do to you,” he said. “I also want to bring awareness that you don’t have to sit in a chair if you have COPD. You have to fight. COPD is a death sentence, but it doesn’t need to be an immediate death.”

Bodenberger encourages others with COPD to get a second medical opinion, do pulmonary rehab and to stay active.

The Fight For Air Climb at Downtown Des Moines is the biggest stair climb in Iowa. Each year, the event attracts hundreds of residents who race up the stairs of four downtown buildings (EMC Insurance Companies building, the Financial Center, Hub Tower and the Ruan Center) to raise awareness and money to fight lung disease. Those who climb all four buildings will complete 85 floors, 1,796 steps. More information is available at

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 Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Guide Seal, or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNGUSA (1-800-586-4872) or visit:

About EMC Insurance Companies
EMC Insurance Companies is among the top 50 insurance organizations in the country based on net written premium, with more than 2,500 employees. Employers Mutual Casualty Company (EMCC) was organized in 1911 to write workers’ compensation protection in Iowa. Today, operating under the trade name EMC Insurance Companies, the company provides property and casualty insurance products and services throughout the United States and writes reinsurance contracts worldwide. EMCC is licensed in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. For more information, visit

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