More than 1,000 climb 1,391 steps to raise funds for American Lung Assn.

DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- The 52 recruits of the Los Angeles County Fire Department's class 142 geared up for quite the workout Saturday morning.

They joined over 1,000 people at the Aon Center in downtown LA, for the annual 'Fight for Air climb.'

The athletes sprinted up the 63 flights or 1,391 steps at 7:30 a.m. followed by the kickoff and opening ceremonies.

Many came for fitness; others in honor of a loved one with lung disease.

ABC7's own Danielle Garcia raised $4,500, the most for this LA event, in memoriam of her mother who died of lung cancer.

Beyond cancer, USC oncologist Dr. Barbara Gitlitz says pneumonia, asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or COPD are the most prominent lung ailments.

In support of the national 'Who Pneu' campaign, Gitlitz was on hand to talk about pneumococcal pneumonia, the most common type, and its challenges for baby boomers.

They say as you age, so does your immune system. Even if you think you're in good health, doctors and participants want you to know we all need to be checked.

"We're encouraging people, anyone with lungs over the age of 50 even if they're the top stair climber at this event, to speak to their primary-care physician about vaccination against pneumococcal pneumonia," Gitlitz said.

Much like the flu, fever, chills, shaking, fatigue and coughing are all symptoms.

And many physician's suggest rather than age 65, immunization against this pneumonia should begin at 50.

Money raised from this event goes toward research, education and patient programs. The "Fight for Air Climb" is the largest fundraiser climb in the country.
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