TAMPA, Fla. - Fighting lung disease is no small feat. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, many have witnessed that battle firsthand.
"There’s a lot of folks here who have been touched by lung cancer and COVID-19 where they’ve lost folks," said Beth Socoski, the board chair for the American Lung Association.
The 16th Annual Fight for Air Climb with the American Lung Association took place Sunday. While it wasn’t held in the usual stairwell of the towering Bank of America building downtown Tampa, the steps inside Raymond James Stadium were still a challenge of their own.
"The steps today are around 900. So that might not sound like a lot, but they're going up and down the various sections of the 200 section at Raymond James Stadium," said Socoski.
Climbers were both young and old.
"I think our youngest climber is 8 or 9 years old, and our oldest climber is 80."
The over 900 step climb was anything by easy.
"We have folks from the school for the blind doing the whole course with their trainers, we have folks that are patients, and we have some lung cancer patients here climbing today. We’re going to have about 200 firefighters in full gear doing the climb and that gear weighs about 90 pounds," said Socoski.
Regardless of background or age, all the climbers came together to raise awareness about a disease that is not only far-reaching but often devastating.
"We have a lot of memorials here today, we have a lot of folks climbing in honor of someone," said Socoski.
Many climbers had a story to share, whether it was their own or about someone they love.
"My dad has COPD really, really bad. He’s disabled as a result of it," Socoski shared. "It’s changed our whole lives that someone who enjoyed working is trapped in their house with an oxygen tank."
Regardless of what brought the climbers to the event, the goal was still the same- to come together to fight lung disease one step at a time.
Sunday’s efforts raised roughly $140,000 to help end lung disease and support the American Lung Association’s COVID-19 Action Initiative.
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