Springfield climbs to fight lung disease
Date: 2/2/2010Feb. 3, 2010.
By Courtney Llewellyn
Reminder Assistant Editor
SPRINGFIELD -- It's not your typical fundraising walk.
That's how Bianca Walker, Manager, Development, for the Springfield office of the American Lung Association (ALA) in Massachusetts, described the Fight For Air Climb that will be taking place on March 6 at Monarch Place in downtown Springfield.
Teams and individuals will race up 24 stories (48 flights) on that day after raising at least $100 for the ALA. The first stair climb event took place last year and Walker said there was a lot of success with the inaugural event.
"You see such a diverse group of supporters for something like this," she said. "There are athletes and those who are working for the cause and those climbing for others who can't."
Connie Lynch is one of those who has climbed in honor of someone else -- her father, who passed away from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, which constricts the airways and causes difficulty or discomfort in breathing, and emphysema, a condition in which the air sacs of the lungs are damaged and enlarged, causing breathlessness. She climbed last year but cannot this year due to an education commitment. This hasn't stopped her from supporting the climb, however.
"There are four people climbing on my father's behalf, including Bianca," Lynch said. "We've had no trouble raising funds on his behalf."
She hasn't had any trouble inspiring others in her workplace, Health New England, located in Monarch Place, to sign up for the climb either. The team last year was made up of seven members; this year, there are 28. Health New England is also serving as a gold sponsor for the climb.
"This [climb] means so much to me," Lynch said, "but it's also an important cause for everyone to participate in. It's about people helping people."
John DeForest, who works for the Springfield Fire Department, sees the climb as not only a good cause but also as a personal challenge.
"You're continuously going, and you're always going uphill," DeForest said of the climb. "I like to try to exceed my limits. I like the challenge."
DeForest, who will also be climbing 41 stories in Boston for that city's stair climb, does have asthma so he understands the mission of the climb: "the fight for air."
"It's a great cause and a great workout," he said. "Three of my five teammates were hooked after doing it last year. You have to try it."
The 2009 climb raised $18,000 for lung research and local ALA programs such as Healthy Choices, Healthy Lungs, which is presented in schools, and the Better Breathers support group.
Walker said she hopes to raise $30,000 with this year's climb. As of Jan. 27, 140 climbers were registered -- 14 more than last year.
"We're definitely going to have a great event with the number of people involved," Walker commented.
Registration for Climb Springfield takes place on March 6 starting at 9 a.m. at Monarch Place on Main Street. The first climber will tackle the stairs at 10 a.m. An after party and awards ceremony will take place at JT's Sports Hub following the climb.
For more information, contact Bianca Walker at 505-5064 or email@example.com
or visit www.climbofyourlife.org