For the last three years, Kyla Routson and her family have laced up their sneakers and trekked up thousands of steps in memory of her dad, Jerry Kiester. They climb the stairs as part of the American Lung Association in Iowa’s iconic Fight For Air Climb in downtown Des Moines.
“I got involved with the Lung Association shortly after my dad Jerry passed away. He and I were very close. He was a lifelong smoker who died of COPD coming up on four years ago. He told me once his only regret in life was that he ever started smoking. It was something he was never able to quit.” said Routson.
Despite several attempts, Kiester never managed to quit smoking, and that is one of the main reasons Routson is so passionate about both the prevention and cessation efforts of the Lung Association.
“In addition to my dad, my oldest daughter Paige has asthma.” said Routson. “And, last but not least, my husband is a firefighter and a big promoter of lung health in the fire community and the unique health challenges they face, given their line of work.”
Routson’s husband will be doing the climb in his full firefighter gear. He is one of several members of Team Climbing for Jerry which includes 10-year-old Paige, 8-year-old Lucas, and Routson’s mother.
“Knowing my dad was never able to successfully quit smoking, I’m also passionate about preventing kids from ever starting to smoke. Vaping is such an issue and so prevalent in schools these days that I’m working to help promote the awesome resources the Lung Association has available to schools.”
This past year Routson has worked to get a bill that calls for schools to stock asthma medications passed and been active in advocacy efforts for state tobacco control programs and closing the loophole for casinos in the Smokefree Air Act.
Routson and Team Climbing for Jerry will make their emotional climb on March 26.
Routson is available for interviews about the Fight For Air Climb, and you can contact Janye Killelea at [email protected] or (312) 940-7624 for requests.
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, which has a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator and is a Platinum-Level GuideStar Member, or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNGUSA (1-800-586-4872) or visit: Lung.org.