Jennifer Shedler, firefighter and EMT for St. Petersburg Fire Rescue, is climbing 1,000 steps of Raymond James Stadium in full gear on April 18 to help improve the lung health of firefighters.
Shedler first signed up for the American Lung Association's Fight For Air Climb five years ago with one of her friends whose parents both died of lung cancer. Since she was in the fire academy, she chose to climb the 914 stairs of the Bank of America Tower in full gear – PPE, boots, helmet and air tank – which adds more than 60 pounds.
“I was pretty nervous about it,” said Shedler about her first climb. “It was very hard and it does not get easier. I have to work myself up to wearing all my gear. I start climbing at work, then I add the gear slowly. It takes time to get conditioned for the event.”
Each year, more than 200 firefighters participate in the Tampa Fight For Air Climb, and this year, it will look a little different. For the first, time, the event has moved outdoors to Raymond James Stadium for the safety of participants, staff and volunteers. While the event format has changed, Shedler’s motivation to participate is the same.
“I support the work of the American Lung Association to be proactive about my own lung health, and lung cancer is something that can affect firefighters. I support anything to help protect my lungs and help me continue my career,” she said. “My dad was a firefighter, so being able to change the culture of safety and lung health is huge. Being a part of that change is overwhelmingly amazing.”
Respiratory diseases remain a significant health issue for firefighters and emergency responders. In the line of duty, firefighters are regularly exposed to smoke, gasses, chemicals and other substances that can be damaging to their lungs, making them at an increased risk for chronic issues, including lingering cough, hoarseness, asthma, and allergies, and in more extreme cases, lung or bronchial cancer.
The Fight For Air Climb is on April 18 at Raymond James Stadium. Registration is $35 and includes a $100 fundraising minimum. For more information, and to register, visit FightForAirClimb.org/Tampa.
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.