Iowa Lung Cancer Patient Climbs Principal Park in Honor of Mother with Long COVID

Lung Association’s iconic event raises awareness, funds to end lung disease

Iowa resident Sara Geiken’s lung cancer diagnosis inspired her mother, Rosemary, who is living with long COVID symptoms, to raise awareness for lung disease. Now, Sara will climb 834 steps as her mom cheers her on at the American Lung Association in Iowa’s Fight For Air Climb, presented by EMC Insurance Companies, at Principal Park on Saturday, May 7.

“Lung health is everybody’s health,” said Sara. “I hope doing things like the Climb is making an impact on other people’s lives as well.” 

In 2019, Sara was diagnosed with non-small cell lung cancer. Since her diagnosis, the research for lung cancer treatments that have worked for Sara has been funded with the Lung Association’s support. In 2021, just days before she was set to participate in the Fight For Air Climb, scans revealed her lung cancer had progressed to stage 4. Despite this, Sara climbed at the event and Rosemary volunteered. Although lung cancer will be a lifetime struggle for Sara, she continues her training and will participate in this year’s Climb with her daughter.

“It will be a huge blessing to climb with my daughter and have my mother there to cheer me on,” said Sara. 

In January 2022, Rosemary was diagnosed with COVID-19. Even though she is still experiencing some cardiac issues, as well as suffering from asthma, she planned to climb with her daughter and granddaughter and was doing strength training to prepare for the event. Unfortunately, doctors advised her not to climb due to her medical conditions. Sara’s dad will climb in Rosemary’s place.

“After you get a diagnosis of lung cancer for your daughter, that’s very tough,” said Rosemary. “Sara has been an inspiration to me throughout all this. Even though I cannot climb, I will continue to raise money and will definitely be there to cheer everyone one.”

Sara has participated in the Climb five times total. Her fundraising goal for this year’s Climb is to raise $1,500. Rosemary’s fundraising goal is $500.
The Des Moines Fight For Air Climb attracts hundreds of climbers from across Iowa who increase awareness funding to end lung disease, including COVID-19, through lifesaving research, local programs and advocacy.

“I am passionate about the progress the Lung Association has made in research for lung cancer treatment,” said Sara. “With more treatments and cures, I have more time to spend with my family and see my daughter grow up. It gives me hope.” 

For more information, and to register, visit

The Lung Association is committed to the health and safety of its participants and volunteers. The organization will continue to closely monitor public health conditions and CDC guidelines for COVID-19. Everyone is encouraged to check the Climb website for the most updated information leading up to the event. 

For more information, contact:

Dana Kauffman
[email protected]

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