Chicago resident Chris DiGilio first signed up for the Fight For Air Ride 34 years ago as a way to round out her workouts, but now the American Lung Association event has become much more personal.
This year marks the 35th anniversary of the Fight For Air Ride event and the first time it’s gone virtual. Each year, hundreds of cyclists ride approximately 50 miles per day for two or three days through scenic rural communities of Northern Illinois and the rolling hills of southern Wisconsin. With the virtual event, cyclists will choose their route and ride solo or social distanced.
DiGilio has participated in every Fight For Air Ride, except for the very first event. Each year, she meets people who live with lung disease who motivate her to keep riding.
“Each year, I meet people who are riding with lung disease and through the years, I have met so many people with lung disease,” said DiGilio. “I will never forget the girl who was riding with oxygen. One time I sat at breakfast and I met these girls who ran an asthma camp. You really get to feel for the struggles of people with lung disease. It touches my heart and it makes me keep going.”
Throughout the years, the mission of the American Lung Association has even touched her personally.
“As a retired teacher, I have a personal interest in helping kids who have a hard time breathing because I have seen it in my classroom,” she said. “Also, my mom is 92 years old and she is struggling to breathe because she has COPD. People support me because they know how important lung health is to me.”
This year, DiGilio is taking to the streets on her own to complete the 150-mile ride virtually. As she reflects about the many changes that she has seen through 34 years of the ride – the different routes, variable weather conditions, fun theme nights and the many people that she has met along the way – one thing has stayed the same, the support from her friends and family.
“There are people who have not missed a year supporting me. People have supported me for all 34 years. It is really amazing,” said DiGilio.
The Fight For Air Ride runs through the month of June. Registration is still open for $15 and anyone who fundraises $250 or more will receive a 35th anniversary Fight For Air Ride jersey. More information and registration is at FightForAirRide.org.
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 education, advocacy and research. The work of the American Lung Association is focused on four strategic imperatives: to defeat lung cancer; to champion clean air for all; to improve the quality of life for those with lung disease and their families; and to create a tobacco-free future. 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: Lung.org.