Be honest. Do you take the elevator going from the 1st to the 3rd floor?

If you answered “yes” to skipping two flights of stairs just imagine how out of breath you’d be if you climbed 30 flights. And then imagine that’s how hard you struggle to breathe every single day — thanks to COPD, asthma, or lung cancer — without climbing even ONE stair.

Chronic sufferers describe it grimly: “I simply tell people that breathing for most people is an involuntary action about which they give little thought while I actively think about almost every breath I take.”

That’s exactly why numerous intrepid climbers are going to be fighting for air climbing 30 flights of stairs at 8 a.m. Saturday, April 2 in the Wells Fargo Capitol Center off Fayetteville Street. Hundreds of individuals and teams, including first responders wearing full gear from the Raleigh Fire Department and Wake County EMS, are raising money step by step to help fund local lung disease research, education and advocacy. They will compete to see who can climb the fastest and raise the most money.

Keela Bastien, a Wake County EMS, is the event’s top fundraiser. “I am doing this climb in honor of my mother, who passed away from Stage 4 Lung Cancer in January after a short six-month battle,” Bastien said. “Cancer does not discriminate. It can affect anyone. Cherish the moments you have with your loved ones because you never know when it could be your last.”

According to Melissa Forde, Area Director for the American Lung Association in North Carolina, “One of the most prevalent forms of lung disease we face in the country today is lung cancer. It is the leading cancer killer for both men and women, and more people lose their life to lung cancer than breast, colon, and prostate cancer combined.”

If you think you’re up to the endurance challenge, signing up is a whole lot easier than making it to the top; participants register for $25 at and then just have to fundraise a minimum of $100, or have a team average of $100 per person, in order to climb the 618 steps.

“We do accept walk ups and last-second registrations,” said Forde. “Although it may be challenging to reach that minimum goal with only a day or so before the event. But our website stays live until the end of June, so technically anyone who would like to climb and pledges to reach the $100 by the end of June, may climb.”

With more than one out of seven middle-aged and older U.S. adults suffering from lung disorders and millions more of all ages living with asthma, it’s a worthwhile challenge.

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