“Fight for Air” Climb Raises $250,000 for American Lung Association

ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) – Hundreds of people took to the stairs Saturday morning to raise money for lung disease and cancer research.

It’s a part American Lung Association ‘An annual air climbing competition. Six hundred participants climbed the 40+ stories and nearly 900 steps to the top of the Metropolitan Square building in downtown St. Louis.

ALA Upper Midwest Regional Council Vice President Chris Scaglione says the event raised $250,000 this year. ALA organizes dozens of such events across the country. He calls it a unique way to connect with lung patients.

“The whole concept behind it is that when you get to the top, you can feel what it’s like to suffer from lung disease … And empathize with the people who unfortunately suffer from it every day.”

Missouri has one of the highest new case rates in the entire country, ranking 7th at 70.1. information from ALA. Some climbers say they climb for a myriad of reasons, including remembering lost family and friends.

Mountaineer Rick Marrs made several ascents Saturday morning and has been climbing since 2009. He says it’s a great way to improve your health while helping others.

“It’s the best cardio you can do,” Marrs said. “I see people here who have been through rehab hospitals and had strokes and are still climbing the ladder. It’s a really good exercise if people can do it.”

Lawyer Sophie Zavaglia is a new leader at ALA. She says her law firm, SWMW Law, often helps patients with lung disease, making this mission even more important to them.

“We see basically every day how devastating lung disease is, so we’re really honored to partner with the ALA and be here and raise money and awareness for lung disease,” Zavaglia said.

Local firefighters also participated in the climb in their full gear, adding about 100 pounds of weight. Central County Fire and Rescue Battalion Chief Brad Peters says firefighters can be exposed to dangerous carcinogens while fighting fires.

“Cancer is very common in the fire service and we are surrounded by many different chemicals that affect our lungs, but it was fun to raise money.”

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