Walkers, runners gather at SeaWorld for Lung Force 5k

Saturday was the 8th American Lung Association’s 5k Lung Force run/walk in Orlando, this time held at SeaWorld. 

"We love to get out and do these kinds of events, it's really fun!" said Orange County firefighter Stephanie Nixon.

That was not easy for Nixon to say, she and a coworker finished the route in full firefighting gear. 

"We like to challenge ourselves and our gear," she said, "it keeps us fit for our jobs."

(FOX 35)

Organizers said nearly 500 people signed-up to take part in the walk-run event. They altogether raised more than $95,000. The money will fund the lung association’s efforts to end lung cancer and lung disease, as well as support the organization’s COVID-19 action initiative. That's a $25 million investment to address COVID-19 and protect against future respiratory virus pandemics.

"The American Lung Association's purpose is to raise funds so we can provide education to people impacted by lung disease, advocate with our decision makers to protect clean air and healthy lungs around the country, and fund life-saving research," said Janelle Hom, executive director of the American Lung Association of Central Florida.

The walkers and runners made their way through SeaWorld, passing all the main attractions. The group also offered a "walk your way" option for those who couldn't make it to the event in-person. 

Hom said it felt great to make a difference. 

"Lung cancer has been the number one cancer killer for men and women since 1987, but has typically received the least funding, so we're working to bring a change to that."

Along with the great feeling of helping cure lung disease, participants will also receive discounted tickets for the park. 

Longtime walkers, like Belinda Carnahan, said the community of donors and survivors is almost like family. 

"Everybody's so friendly! Everybody helps you. You hear their story, you think yours is bad, sometimes theirs is worse. It's like a whole process."