Downtown Stair Climbers to Raise Lung Health Awareness, Research Dollars

Mar 22, 2013

Many organizations say to accomplish their goals they take it one step at a time. The American Lung Association (ALA) means that literally.

This Saturday in downtown Pittsburgh 478 participants are expected to climb 897 steps to raise $120,000 for the ALA in the organization’s second annual "Fight For Air Climb."

The numbers don’t stop there.

According to the ALA’s State of the Air Report, some 127.2 million Americans, or four out of 10 people, live in counties that experience unhealthy levels of air pollution resulting from ozone or high short-term and year-round particle levels.

Based on the report's estimates, for the 23,000 children with asthma in Allegheny County or the 344,000 Allegheny County residents with cardiovascular disease, air pollution takes a basic function and makes it a struggle against the environment.

Marissa Mysliwiec, director of Pittsburgh’s ALA chapter, said Saturday’s Fight For Air Climb will raise money for research as well as raise awareness about the challenges faced by those with lung conditions.

“Whenever you climb up all those steps, and you’re short of breath, it’s how people who are battling lung disease and asthma feel every day,” Mysliwiec said.

Participants who take on the stairs at One Oxford Centre, one of Pittsburgh’s tallest buildings, are asked to raise $100. It costs $25 to register.

Mysliwiec said all of the proceeds will benefit the ALA’s research and outreach. Specifically, the money will be used in the search for a cure for lung disease, as well as to fund programs that advocate non-smoking. The climb also benefits programs that provide support for people with asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Last year’s event attracted 379 climbers, and Mysliwiec hopes the event will draw more than 500 people this year.

Given Pittsburgh’s low air quality rating, Mysliwiec said ensuring lung health is a community concern.

“A lot of people associate lung disease with people that smoke cigarettes, and there’s so much more that goes into it," she said. "I mean, people that have never smoked a cigarette in their life can get lung cancer, so it’s very important to help with the pollution and clean air.”