Keegan Smith is a typical little boy, he’s 6 years old, but he can’t do typical little boy things; like ride a bike or run in a playground. He suffers from a chronic lung disease. So he requires oxygen support 24/7. That’s why his mom, Kerensa, is raising awareness and funding, and advocating for research for kid-friendly equipment to help little children like her son.
She created “Team Keegan” and is gathering friends and family to join her in climbing 843 stairs at the iconic Fight For Air Climb event which will be outdoors for the first time at Great American Ballpark on April 25.
“Team Keegan's mission is to bring awareness to the pediatric population that suffers from lung disease,” said Kerensa. “I am passionate to continue to advocate for a better world for Keegan and other children with special needs. To make the world a better place to navigate for children with special needs. I hope that with Team Keegan's support the American Lung Association will help make those with lung issues live a more independent and better life.”
The event typically takes place in the stairwells of Carew Tower but was reimagined as an outdoor climb challenge for the safety of participants, volunteers and staff.
Kerensa will join hundreds of Greater Cincinnati residents tackle the lower bowl of Great American Ballpark, totaling 843 stairs. This is her second year participating in the event.
“I wanted to do something to honor Keegan and his lung condition after I had taken up running in honor of my other son, who has cerebral palsy. I heard about the Fight For Air Climb and knew that needed to be my challenge, since marathon running had become my first challenge. My boys face difficulties every day and they challenge me to become a better version of myself,” she said.
Kerensa is looking forward to the challenge of climbing up and down the stairs.
“It will be amazing to be outdoors, hear the stamping of all those concrete steps, and know that we are all there for a common goal. Great American Ballpark is a beautiful venue and we are Red's fans, so it is perfect for our family. Keegan's favorite place to be is outside, so he will be in his element for certain,” she said.
Registration is now open for the event, which includes tackling the lower bowl of Great American Ballpark, totaling 843 stairs. Two other options include “The Great American Challenge Climb” which includes completing the lower bowl and both upper bowls for an approximate 4,064 steps (or 1 mile up and 1 mile down). The other options is called “The First Responder Challenge” which includes completing the upper level bowl only for an approximate 1,200 stairs total.
Money raised at the Fight For Air Climb will fund the Lung Association’s efforts to end lung cancer and lung disease, as well as support the Lung Association’s COVID-19 Action Initiative. The COVID-19 Action Initiative is a $25 million investment to address COVID-19 and protect against future respiratory virus pandemics. The initiative works with public and private entities to increase research collaboration and develop new vaccines, detection tests and treatment therapies.
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.