'Fight for Air Climb' at Soldier Field an effort to improve IL lung health

ByStephanie Wade WLS logo
Sunday, May 21, 2023
'Fight for Air Climb' at Soldier Field Sunday
More than 1.8 million people in Illinois suffer from lung disease. The Fight for Air Climb at Soldier Field benefits the American Lung Association.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Hundreds laced up their shoes and climbed the stairs inside Soldier Field Sunday, all for a good cause.

The annual "Fight For Air Climb," benefiting the American Lung Association, stepped off Sunday morning.

"Every breath counts. Every breath counts. And right now somebody's taking their last breath," climber Agnes Trojanek said. "It holds deep in my heart for a lot of my family that's dealing with lung issues, including COPD and lung disease. And I'm also doing it for myself."

Those participating walked up and down the stadium stairs, all around the field.

The over $300,000 raised from the event will support the lung association's efforts to improve lung health in Illinois through research, education and advocacy.

More than 1.8 million people in the state suffer from lung disease.

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"We have survivors, we have family members joining them, celebrating with them, corporate teams, all that are here raising awareness for clean air and healthy breathing," said Danielle Trojanek, with the American Lung Association. "The way we like to really say is, 'for every step take a breath,' you know, or for every breath take a step. If you can't breathe, nothing else matters."

The first wave stepped off at 8:15 a.m.

At 10 a.m., firefighters started their climb in full gear.

"To me, I know it's a fight for lungs, but I'm running for a friend of mine, who passed away," said Anthony Gomez, a firefighter from Plattfield, Wisconsin.

Many climbers had personal connections to the cause.

"My mother has COPD, which is a very long-term, lung health disease," climber Tricia Vaisvila said. "And sometimes a little bit of education goes a really long way."

Greg McClellan is still battling a lung disease today.

"I have a passion for this because I do live with a lung disease called sarcoidosis," he said. "I almost died twice; I have been hospitalized six weeks at one time. Another time was for two weeks, and so I have a passion for this here."