'Fight for Air Climb' participants to climb downtown LA skyscraper to raise funds in fight against lung disease

DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- At a recent practice climb at the Mattachine stairs in Silver Lake, American Lung Association's Chelsea Burke had some impressive numbers concerning the up coming "Fight for Air Climb.

"This is the 12th annual year. We are anticipating more than 900 climbers will have more than 1,200 people attending. Last year we raised over $220,000. We are looking this year to raise $260,000," said Burke, the American Lung Association's development director.

"The mission of the American Lung Association is to really make a difference and try to help and save lives," said Danielle Garcia, ABC7's team leader.

Garcia has been one of the top fundraisers for this event the last five years for good reason.

"My mom passed away from lung cancer a few years ago, my grandfather passed away from COPD, and I myself have asthma. I had a few life-threatening attacks, and they were brought on by secondhand smoke," Garcia said.

Garcia said her airways were closing and she couldn't breathe, but a friend had an asthma inhaler that helped save her life.

Along with climbing, she enlists the help of friends and other employees, like Laurie Bossi who's climbed for the last four years.

"I'm not a stair person I hate stairs. I'm actually doing it for my aunt who died of lung cancer and never smoked, hopefully we can help raise the odds," said Bossi.

From elite athletes that climb the 1,393 steps in eight minutes, to the firemen in full gear- or even the casual climber, most everyone has a story of someone with breathing challenges, or at least want cleaner air.

"We take those funds for education, for research, we have better breather programs all across Los Angeles," Burke said.

Taking the stairs might mean positive steps toward a possible solution in solving lung issues.

It is not too late to get involved. You can sign up yourself, join a team, or simply come down and root for the ABC7 Fight for Air climb team on April 6 at the Aon Center in downtown Los Angeles.
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