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Minneapolis Family Devastated by Lung Disease Climbs Tower to Raise Awareness

(February 20, 2019) - MINNEAPOLIS

For more information please contact:

Jill Thompson
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Minneapolis mother Suzanna Newell is proof that the fight for clean air and healthy lungs affects us all. She has personally seen the devastation of lung cancer, asthma, influenza, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and even tuberculosis, so now she fights for a cure through her participation in the Fight For Air Climb at U.S. Bank Plaza.

Eleven years ago, when Newell’s father had just retired, he developed a chest pain. After several months of testing, he was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer. After chemotherapy and radiation treatments, her father succumbed to the disease jut nine months after his diagnosis.

“I watched my dad from his hospital bed when the oxygen numbers were declining to a point of point of either intubation or the end. I was there when my dad chose to be done with a very exhausting fight for air,” said Newell. “He was such a strong, kind and amazing man. The whole experience was intense and unfortunate. That was extremely impactful for me.”

Just one year later, Newell’s son was born and it became quickly apparent that he had asthma. This lead to trips to the emergency room, nebulizers and medication. Fortunately, today her son’s asthma is well-controlled.

In 2014 while working at the U.S. Bank Plaza in Minneapolis, Newell saw a flyer for the Fight For Air Climb and decided to sign up to memorialize her father and honor her son. But her first climb turned out to focus more on her sister. Just a few weeks before the event, her sister had the flu. On the day of the climb, her health was so bad that Newell planned to take her family to the hospital to say goodbye. Thankfully, her sister made it through the severe illness.

“I remember running up the stairs as fast as I could and feeling the burn in my lungs and throat imagining that might be just a tiny example of the struggles my sister was having,” she said. “That Climb, and that day were so impactful for me. All of these people were raising money to help support advancement in research, resources and medicine that were keeping my sister alive.”

Additionally, her experiences with lung diseases through her father, son and sister, Newell herself suffered from tuberculosis as a child and she recently lost her uncle to COPD. This year, Newell’s family of four will be climbing together to remember those who they have lost and honor those who have survived lung disease.

“I am so thankful that the American Lung Association continues to focus on supporting advancement in treatments, because outside of a race, no one should have to fight to breathe,” said Newell. “The Fight For Air Climb is an impressive, impactful event for a very important cause that is near and dear to my heart.”

The Fight For Air Climb invites individuals, friends and family teams, corporate teams and first responders who race up the stairs of U.S. Bank Plaza (31 floors, 680 steps) to raise awareness and money to fight lung disease. Registration for the 2019 Fight For Air Climb is currently open online or by calling 651-337-5099.


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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