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Pella Firefighters Climb for All Who Suffer From Lung Disease

(March 16, 2018) -

For more information please contact:

James Martinez
[email protected]
(312) 445-2501

The Pella Fire Department started climbing in the Fight For Air Climb in honor of their chief’s wife who had a double lung transplant, but now they climb to honor all firefighters and family members who suffer from lung disease.

In March 2015, Pella Fire Department Chief Doug Van Gorkom’s wife, Susan, received a double lung transplant. While she was in Iowa City recovering, Chief Van Gorkom received a letter in the mail from a neighboring fire department challenging his department to compete in the Fight For Air Climb in Downtown Des Moines. When the chief asked his firefighters if anyone would be willing to climb in honor of his wife, he had four volunteers right away. Since then, the team has participated each year, and now is one of the top fundraising teams.

“It is important to me because of what happened to my wife and what we [all of the firefighters] have watched her go through,” said Chief Van Gorkom. “We also participate because we feel it is a good cause since firefighters can get lung cancer due to what they are exposed to on the job. There are firefighters dealing with lung cancer and lung disease because of that.”

For the Firefighter Challenge at the Fight For Air Climb in Downtown Des Moines, teams of four firefighters each climb one of the four buildings as a relay in full gear, which is an extra 50 – 75 pounds. They also compete for the highest fundraising team. This year for the 15th anniversary of the event, the Pella Department has nine team members and a goal to raise $12,000 for the American Lung Association in Iowa. The Pella firefighters come together to host events to raise money, like a Pancake Breakfast held last October and a upcoming fundraiser at Pizza Ranch in Pella on March 19.

“We have had tremendous support from our local and surrounding communities,” said Chief Van Gorkom. “Our goal is to help other firefighters or family members who fight lung disease.”

The Fight For Air Climb presented by Hubbell Realty Company will take place on April 8, 2018 in downtown Des Moines. Registration for the 15th Annual Fight For Air Climb is currently open online or by calling 515-309-9507.


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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