The pandemic has affected fundraising efforts for most nonprofit organizations at a time when they need donations most.
The Wisconsin branch of the American Lung association proved that big charity events can go on, even against all odds.
It’s the same fundraiser, with a different look. For the first time in 13 years, the Fight for Air Climb was not inside Milwaukee’s US Bank Building.
“I have to say, in the planning stages, we were a bit worried because we were changing to a new venue, it was a pandemic,” says Julie Mitchell, with Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield. “We really needed a new venue that we could do this safely outdoors.”
Fast forward, and you have 725 people going up and down the more than 1,400 stairs of the loge level at American Family Field. Some made the game-time decision to add 417 more steps to the top of the terrace level.
As usual, families decided to have fun with it – one even wore inflatable body bubbles.
Climbers had to do a health screening 24 hours before and wore masks, but they could take them off while climbing if they kept a safe distance.
For many, the climb is personal. A team from TMJ4 climbs every year in honor of long-time photographer Michael Green who died from lung disease.
“My stepfather just had a lung transplant about two months ago,” says climber Amy Ballard. “Seeing first hand what they can do for people with lung issues, obviously the money goes to a great cause, so it’s fantastic.”
At least 100 firefighters from departments throughout Southeast Wisconsin ran up and down wearing at least 50 pounds of gear.
“They believe in the message,” says Darin Peterburs, a Milwaukee Fire Battalion Chief. “Lung disease comes in all different shapes and sizes. It could be from something you inhale, whether it be something at a fire or a chemical.”
Thanks to the pivoting skills of event organizers and the generosity of donors, the Fight For Air Climb continues as the biggest fundraiser of the year for the American Lung Association of Wisconsin.
This year, the Climb outpaced its goal of $320,000, raising more than $420,000 for research, education, and advocacy.