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Fight For Air Climb is an opportunity for one woman to honor the life of her late husband

Posted at 5:16 PM, Apr 07, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-07 18:17:35-04

The Fight for Air Climb is just days away!

The American Lung Association is hosting its 14th annual Fight For Air Climb – Milwaukee sponsored by Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield at American Family Field on Saturday.

People from all over the Milwaukee area will go to American Family field to climb up and down the stadium. One of those climbers is honoring the life of her husband.

“Jay was an incredible, loving guy,” says Joleen Tichelaar. “He was my soulmate.”

Tichelaar says she and Jay started dating when they were just 16.

“He was just laid-back, fun-loving, had a fun personality, but incredibly, incredibly intelligent,” Tichelaar recalls.

She says a lot of people didn’t know that Jay had a doctorate degree.

“His whole career was dedicated to lung research. He was kind of the behind-the-scenes guy that did a lot with lung cancer [and] lung treatments,” Tichelaar says.

In 2017, Tichelaar was waiting for Jay to come home from work, just like any other day.

“I had dinner waiting on the table for him,” she says. “Then I got word that nobody ever, ever wants to hear.”

Tichelaar says part of a brake drum fell off a truck and broke through Jay’s windshield and killed him.

Tichelaar was devastated.

“There were so many negative aspects to his accident and the circumstances surrounding it, and that’s not who he was,” she says. “I wanted him to be remembered for something positive and last year in particular, in 2021, the climb was on May 22, which was the day he was killed.”

Funds raised at the event go to support the life-saving research, education and advocacy efforts of the Lung Association. Already, the event has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars. It is work that was near and dear to Jay’s heart.

As challenging as climbing up and down American Family Field was for Tichelaar, she says it was also exhilarating.

“It brought so much healing to my heart,” she says. “I just need to keep on doing this. It’s like a positive way to remember Jay.”

The climb begins at 8 a.m. It's not too late to register — just follow this link.

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