Climbing stairs is often seen as a difficult chore. Elevators and escalators have turned stairs into something for “emergency use only.” The elevation of stairs makes people feel more out of breath than usual, and climbing them really gives the lungs a workout. The American Lung Association, Northeast Region, will be giving people an excuse to take the stairs, even if it’s just for one day.
Rhode Island’s 10th annual Fight for Air Climb will take place at the Omni Hotel in Providence on March 24, 2018. The Omni Hotel is one of the tallest buildings in Rhode Island, at 329 feet high and with 25 floors. Brave climbers will be running (or walking) up 22 floors (44 flights) for a total of 348 steps. The event has grown each year, since starting at 1 Financial Plaza, raising more money and attracting more runners, with last year having more than 700 (their goal this year is 900). In addition to raising money that goes toward research, education and advocacy (they have raised well over $1,000,000 since its inception), Cori Dubie-O’Connor, development coordinator, hopes to raise awareness about lung cancer and other lung diseases.
People truly get an understanding for what it’s like to have lung disease and realize how many people are struggling,” Dubie-O’Connor stated. “Our goal always is to raise awareness and emphasize the fact that anyone can get lung disease and that we are all breathing the same air.”
People of all abilities are encouraged to tackle this challenging event. People have the option of running or walking up the stairs, with elite runners going first. The climb itself takes about 5 to 6 minutes for the average climber, with an elevator ride back down to the registration room. There are volunteers at every floor who offer encouragement or assistance if needed. The event is especially unique with the firefighter division, where firefighters climb in full gear (weighing approximately 80 pounds).
We have our Firefighter Division because firefighters are at a higher risk of getting lung cancer due to their line of work,” Dubie-O’Connor said.
Because the event is a fundraiser, climbers are all required to raise a minimum of $100, in addition to the registration fee. Climbers are encouraged to make a $33 donation toward their own goal, which signifies the 33 million people suffering from lung disease. Climbers can raise funds online or collect donations to bring to the event. Eighty-seven cents of every dollar raised at the event will go toward education, research and advocacy.
The registration room is where climbers check in, register (day of registration fee is $50 in addition to the required $100 fundraising goal) and give any donations collected. It is full of excited and nervous climbers preparing for their trek up the stairs. There are also tables set up from corporate sponsors, with plenty of swag and information for everyone.
An after party will take place at Union Station Brewery, just down the street from the Omni Hotel. They will be opening at 9am on Climb Day and will have discounted drink and food menu for climbers, volunteers, friends and family. There will be raffle items donated by local businesses, DJ Valentina spinning music, and an awards ceremony, which includes awards for individuals, teams and fundraisers.
While the climb itself is relatively quick, it is fun and eye opening. The elevation impacts the lungs, which could lead to shortness of breath and trouble breathing for the rest of the day, giving an inside look at what someone with lung disease may suffer with on a regular basis.
“This event is for people of any athletic ability and any age!” Dubie-O’Connor said passionately. “We’ve had climbers as young as 10 and as old as 80 overcome the Omni Providence Hotel. It’s a challenging event, but very exhilarating at the same time, and it definitely feels good once you cross the finish line. Not only is the climb a personal accomplishment, but it gives you such a great sense of how you are changing the lives of those who are suffering daily from lung disease.”
The Fight for Air Climb: Providence will take place on Saturday, March 24. Registration starts at 8am. Call 401-533-5177 or Email ProvClimb@LungNE.org for more information. Register online here: http://action.lung.org/site/TR?fr_id=16330&pg=entry. Registration fee is $35 with a $100 fundraising minimum. Day of registration is $50 with a $100 fundraising minimum.