MILWAUKEE — Thousands of stairs will be climbed all for a good cause. We’re just weeks away from the Milwaukee Fight for Air Climb and many of the climbers have truly inspiring stories.
Kate Erd and Randy Anderson are strangers, but they have one important thing in common: lung disease.
Erd was diagnosed with hypersensitivity pneumonitis, which led to a collapsed lung.
“Because my lung, it was virtually disintegrating into my body,” she says.
Anderson was diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis, which made it hard to breathe.
“I couldn’t even make it to the mailbox,” he says.
Anderson says you can have a full life with lung disease, but you have to plan ahead.
“You can’t just walk out the door the way you used to.”
After battling their diseases for years apiece, Anderson and Erd finally got the calls they’d hoped and prayed for – that a donor set of lungs was ready for them.
“I was so beyond – I was actually overwhelmed,” Anderson says. “I called my wife, told her we had about an hour, pack everything else up.”
Erd says, “My first instinct was, ‘no, I’m not sick enough,’ and here I am in the hospital! And it’s like, ‘what, are you crazy? Take the lung!’”
She’s grateful she did. Erd has been able to play in the snow with her grandkids and train for this year’s Fight for Air Climb.
“All of these things have brought me, it’s a whole different world, a whole different life for me,” says Erd.
Anderson says he recovered from his transplant in record time, and now feels equally as blessed.
“It’s been almost tenfold,” he says. “There’s almost nothing that I can’t do that I did prior, beforehand.”
It’s part of the reason that both of these survivors want to participate in the Fight for Air Climb – to raise money for the American Lung Association and the research that saved their lives.
Erd was signed up last year, but had to drop out due to COVID concerns.
“It’s going to be out there [at American Family Field] this year and I’m climbing.”
“I believe that it’s up to me to help, to assist, whatever I can do for anybody who might need it down the road,” says Anderson. “So, for the little part that I’m doing, that’s the least that I can do.”
And with every step, these survivors are telling other fighters something really important.
“I really want to get the word out there that you can do it!” says Erd. “You can recover from something as bad as lung disease.”