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Paoli, O.K., Native Climbs to Honor Sister, Support Lung Research

(March 16, 2017) -

Wendy Sparks hates the term “lost her battle.” Four years ago, Sparks’ sister, Nikki, passed away from metastasized lung cancer. Nikki fought hard, Sparks said, through seven months of chemotherapy, surgeries, pain and radiation. When Nikki died Sparks, 46, of Paoli, Oklahoma, took on her own fight to help save other lives from lung cancer.

On March 25, Sparks will participate in her fourth American Lung Association’s annual Fight For Air Climb. She’ll join hundreds of local supporters in this vertical road race to the top of Leadership Square in downtown Oklahoma City, scaling 70 floors and 1,540 steps.

“I love hearing the testimonies on why people climb,” Sparks said. “Also, you know what you’re doing and why after just a few flights.  It’s an event that you can feel from virtually the first few steps.”

Participants in the Fight For Air Climb raise money for lung cancer advocacy, education and research, and these funds help researchers and physicians better understand lung cancer and develop critical treatments that can save lives. In her sister’s memory, Sparks created TEAM NIKKI with friends and family, and this year they are on pace to raise $60,000 since they started climbing together in 2014.

“I created TEAM NIKKI to spread the word about my little sister and help raise money for a cure,” Sparks said. “These are some of the proudest days of my life. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt at those moments that she did not die in vain.”

The American Lung Association of Oklahoma’s 2017 Fight For Air Climb is sponsored by the Oklahoma City Firefighters – Local 157, Cancer Treatment Centers of America, Newcastle Casino, Alumni Productions and BTP Productions.  Additionally, firefighters and first responder teams will be scaling the stairs in full gear to raise funds to fight lung disease. 

“The Fight For Air Climb is truly a unique experience for both running and fitness enthusiasts, as well as our participants that are suffering from a lung disease,” said Logan Ferguson, director of development for the American Lung Association in Oklahoma. “And is a reminder that no one should have to fight for air on a daily basis.”

For more information or to register, contact [email protected] or 405-748-4674, or visit


About the American Lung Association in Oklahoma

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 the newly redesigned website:

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