Local firefighters, cancer survivors, and first responders climb a thousand stairs for a good cause

Climbing a thousand steps is tough, but just imagine doing it in 50 lb. of stifling firefighter gear. Alicia Schwan from the Saint Cloud Fire Department has been taking part in the American Lung Association's Fight for Air stair climb in Orlando since 2009. Each time she’s been wearing her gear during the climb.

"It's the firefighter mentality to train and always be strong to do your job," Schwan said, "so to come out and challenge yourself in the gear, which is how you'd be challenged on a call, is just another way to challenge your body to make sure that you're fit and ready to go."

This is the climb's 15th year in Orlando. The event challenges climbers at Exploria Stadium. They went up and down the steps and ran through the tunnel from the field, just like the MLS players. "It's tough," said Eddie Fisher, a climber who lost his father to COPD, "it's more of a walk, but it's fun, it's for everybody. Whether you're walking or climbing it doesn't matter. We just need your help at the American Lung Association.

Along with battling other lung diseases, the American Lung Association now has a $25 million initiative to address the COVID-19 pandemic. "That was a pledge to help fund research that can help combat COVID-19 and prevent against future respiratory pandemics. We're also providing education around COVID-19 and vaccines and being a trusted champion for information around COVID-19," said Janelle Hom, executive director of the American Lung Assoc. of Central Florida.

They hoped to raise more than $80,000 from Saturday's climb. Climber Troy Alston said it felt great to help. "It's perfect, you come out, get good exercise, you work out for yourself, but you also help a better cause, as well."