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Local Firefighter Climbs Tower in 50 Pounds of Gear to Memorialize Family Lost to Cancer

On February 16, Joshua Poffenbarger, firefighter with Latham Fire and Rescue, will climb 32 floors, 532 stairs in the American Lung Association’s Fight For Air Climb at Springfield Wyndham City Centre to raise money and awareness for lung disease and lung cancer.

After smoking for 18 years, Poffenbarger quit smoking on April 19, 2018. Then he learned about the Fight For Air Climb. He decided to sign up to climb in the Firefighter Challenge because he was able to overcome his tobacco addiction and because many of his family members have died from cancer.

For the event, firefighters compete for the title of the fastest fire department and top fundraising team. The firefighters are required to climb in full gear – helmet, boots and air tank – which can add 50-75 pounds of weight as they tackle 32 floors, 532 steps of the tallest tower in central Illinois. He competed in his first Fight For Air Climb last year with one other team member.

“I did it with my pants, full bunker gear, insulation, hood, helmet and air tank. I made it up the tower in 13 minutes. I used all of my 30-minute air tank in that 13 minutes,” said Poffenbarger.

This year, he decided to climb again and recruited two other team members. He climbs to challenge himself physically, but also to memorialize his family members lost to cancer.

“I don’t like cancer and if there is anything I can do to help fight cancer, I am going to do it,” said Poffenbarger. “I have lost a lot of people in my family to cancer. It is a good cause to support because you are raising money, raising awareness, getting exercise and accomplishing a goal.”

The Fight For Air Climb, set for February 16, attracts hundreds of Illinois residents who climb the stairs of the Wyndham Springfield City Centre (32 floors, 532 steps) to raise awareness and money to fight lung disease and lung cancer. To learn more and register, visit the Fight For Air Climb at Wyndham Springfield City Centre website.

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