Brandon Steen and Paige Reiskytl have fond memories of their mom Carolyn, who was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2016 and died a year later.
The siblings had lost their father Bruce just five years earlier.
"When he was sick we grew really close, and I think as we transitioned from a family of four to a family of three we grew even closer," Reiskytl said.
It was that closeness that made Steen move home from college when their mom got sick.
"I was looking at something on Monday. I'm like, man, I can't do any of this homework. So I just said yeah, I'm done with this, I gotta go home," he said.
Steen said their mother worried about them because they didn't always get along as kids, "They were always nervous because in high school we weren't super close, Paige and I."
"That was one of the things my mom was pretty adamant about," Reiskytl added. "'What's going to happen when I'm gone? Are you guys going to be OK? Are you guys going to talk?'"
It turns out the siblings do talk, and they laugh, and they do things in their mom's memory, like the Fight for Air Climb which benefits the American Lung Association. This will be Paige's fourth climb and Brandon's third.
"I bailed out on her the first time because I was too scared to do it," Steen joked.
But he got over his fear and now climbs alongside his sister, who this year desperately wants him to wear a costume.
"I'm working on convincing Brandon to wear a sparkly tutu this year," Reiskytl said, laughing. "We'll see how it goes. I think it would look good!"
"I'm working on convincing Brandon (her brother) to wear a sparkly tutu this year. We'll see how it goes. I think it would look good!" — Paige Reiskytl
A laugh shared between this family of two who would give anything to bring their parents back but are making the most of what they've got.
"I miss our mom and dad," Reiskytl said fondly. "I think doing (the climb) together is really cool, but I think what I miss most is our family. I really enjoy staying close with Brandon."
The 11th annual Fight for Air Climb is Saturday, March 9 at the U.S. Bank Center in downtown Milwaukee.
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