Stair Climb 1

Participants sign in and receive bibs for the Fight for Air Climb.

KANSAS CITY, Mo.– Hundreds of people gathered in downtown Kansas City this weekend to participate in the American Lung Association’s inaugural Fight for Air Climb of the year. This event raises funds for the advancement of lung cancer research.

The climb was hosted at One Kansas City Place, the tallest building in the Kansas City skyline, with 42 flights, a total of 902 stairs.

Stair Climb 3

Linda Crider, Executive Director at the American Lung Association

“Our mission is to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease,” said Linda Crider, Executive Director at the Lung Association. “We really want to have our participants really get that feeling of what it’s like to really challenge your lungs as those who are affected with lung disease are challenged with every breath that they take, every moment of their lives.”

Despite climbing for a common goal, the participants ranged from patients, families, and first responders, all with individual motivations for climbing.

Several fire departments participated in the ‘Firefighters Challenge,’ climbing in full gear, including boots, helmets, and airpacks, up to 80 pounds in extra weight.

Columbia FD

Left to Right: Derek Abbot, Ryan Adams and Lance Lanier from the Columbia Fire Department prep before climbing in full gear.

Ryan Adams from the Columbia Fire Department said he is looking forward to having a good time, building teamwork, and much more.

“I’m climbing of course for the American Lung Association and cancer research in general,” said Adams. “The firefighting community itself is starting to have a lot more issues with cancer just from all the carcinogens we breathe when we are at fire scenes. We are out here to support the cause and to have a good time. It’s good teamwork and teambuilding for us as well. It’s almost like training for us, too.”

Stair Climb 2

Left to Right: Margaretta Smith Narcisse, Cynthia Blueitt, and Kimiko Gilmore from Black Girls RUN! gather with other runners before their climb.

Kimiko Gilmore, Cynthia Blueitt, and Margaretta Smith Narcisse with Black Girls RUN!, an organization that encourages and inspires African-American women to live a healthy lifestyle, also participated in the event.

Blueitt said this event holds personal significance as she battled with smoking, a major challenge she was able to overcome.

“I quit smoking two years ago,” said Blueitt. “It was a huge challenge for me, I’ve been able to do a lot of things in my life. I went to the army, I served in a war, and those presented a lot of challenges, but smoking, that was a problem. I want other people to be able to do that, because you need help and support, and tools. It is a very imporant cause.”

Narcisse said this event is a great opportunity to help others.

“We have to do something to help other people as much as we can,” she said. “This is one of those easy things. It’s going to be hard, but it’s easy to go out and use your legs to help out, so here we are.”

With lung cancer being the number one cancer, Crider said it is the goal of the American Lung Association to bring awareness and make certain that people know the dangers and the risks associated with lung cancer.

“This is really an activity to empower individuals to invest in their own personal health and fitness,” said Crider. “They’re not just climbing stairs, but they are fighting for an end to lung disease.”