MILWAUKEE — There was a bit of a party at American Family Field Saturday morning – and it wasn’t for the Brewers!
It was the 14th annual Fight For Air Climb, hosted by the American Lung Association to raise money for lung disease research.
Stephen LaViolette has spent three years participating in the Fight for Air Climb. He climbs for his mother, who had pulmonary fibrosis.
“With my earphones on I was listening to a song, and I actually cried a little bit at the beginning, because I lost my mom in February,” Stephen says.
Lung disease has taken a toll on Stephen’s family. His father died from asthma complications after thirty years of steroids.
But he says a day like today is a day to remember the positives.
“It’s empowering to see, you see all the people that are like-minded, the wonderful staff, the volunteers,” Stephen says. “They do such a great job and American Family Field is my happy place.”
Megan Cordova – Executive Director of the American Lung Association in Wisconsin – says that upbeat attitude spreads throughout the ballpark.
“The vibe is awesome,” she says “I feel like we’ve had people in costume. We have people of all ages, our youngest is six and our oldest is 92 today.”
All those climbers are hoping to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars, and plenty of those donations come in right at the end. Over the past few years, the Milwaukee Fight For Air Climb has raised the most money of all the Climbs nationwide. Megan hopes to keep it that way.
“I think we’ll get to $470 [thousand],” Megan says. “We are really proud of every dollar that we raise, because 90 cents of every dollar goes back to our programs and services.”
That research is incredibly important to Stephen, whose son has been diagnosed with asthma as well.
“We know more about steroids, we know more about how they should be temporary and not a 30 year fix,” he says. “I think the research they’re doing is helping everybody.”
And that’s why the American Lung Association says the Climb is for everyone – no matter what kind of shape you’re in.
“If you have lungs, you are affected by our mission, for sure,” Megan says.
“Just sign up,” says Stephen. “Walk it, take your time. Take in the sights of… American Family Field. Just enjoy yourself, nobody says you have to do it fast!”
Editorial note: The event consisted of more than 1,200 people and raised $467,000.