Charlotte resident Katie Kuehner first started campaigning for lung health when she was just 10 years old. She would advocate for her father to quit smoking. Through the years, her passion for lung health grew stronger after she lost several family members to lung disease. On March 27, she will climb 808 steps to raise awareness and support the work of the American Lung Association.
Kuehner’s father smoked for most of his adult life and was only able to break his addiction two years before he passed away. He was diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and lived with it for about 20 years. For the last 10 years of his life, Kuehner watched her father’s health significantly decline.
“Watching him struggle to breathe was the hardest thing ever,” said Kuehner. “I would get so mad. I didn’t understand that he couldn’t do things because he couldn’t breathe. It is important to understand that you can’t do the most basic self-care or hygiene when your lungs are that compromised. It is important to me to throw my weight behind educating people about this disease.”
In the last ten years, Kuehner has lost six family members to COPD, with an aunt and an uncle passing in just the last year alone. On March 27, she will climb to remember everyone she has lost to lung disease, and also help educate people about lung disease.
“Watching these people that I loved so much struggle to breathe and ultimately lose their fights has affected me profoundly and I am doing what I can to make a difference today. I am so blessed to be able to get up the stairs and take spin class and not have my lungs compromised. It has motivated me. You can’t do anything if you can’t take a breath. This year I will be racing up those stairs for Aunt Peggy, Uncle Dee and Dad, but I’ll be breathing for the people that struggle for every single breath,” she said.
The Fight For Air Climb presented by Landmark Builders is on March 27 at Truist Field, Home of the Charlotte Knights. Registration is $35 and requires an additional $100 fundraising minimum. For more information and to register, visit FightForAirClimb.org/Charlotte.
Your safety is always our number one priority. We are continually monitoring local conditions that might affect your Climb. Check your local Climb website for the most up-to-date information.
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.