More people than ever taking steps toward healthier lungs

SPRINGFIELD—More than a thousand people took steps toward healthier lungs—532 steps to be exact—at the American Lung Association's annual stair climb Sunday.

For some, it's a competition.

“I've been to Los Angeles, Seattle, New York, Chicago, climbing all sorts of iconic buildings,” said Justin Stewart, who climbs stairs competitively.

For others, it's all about supporting the cause.

“It's something that we're doing in memory of somebody that we all love,” said Frani Earls. “My late husband was diagnosed with synovial sarcoma, and he ended up passing away in 2012.”

But everyone at this year's “Fight for Air” climb in Springfield took steps to stomp out lung-related illnesses.

“They climb all 32 floors to the top to put pressure on their lungs to help other people who have problems with either lung disease, lung cancer, asthma or emphysema,” said Alissa Eagen, special events coordinator for the American Lung Association.

The annual fundraiser for the American Lung Association in central Illinois was larger than ever in 2015 with more than 1000 people hiking up the Hilton stairs. Last year's event raised more than $180,000 and this year, organizers are aiming even higher, setting the goal at $225,000.

“It actually goes into research for lung cancer, and asthma, everything that we cover, as well as emphysema, it covers all of it,” said Eagen. “But it does stay in Central Illinois for that research, education, and advocacy.”

“The American Lung Association does some wonderful things with the money that they raise with helping to make sure that we all have clean air to breathe,” said Earls. “Which in the end is what's really important because we can't take our health for granted.”

And with each stride they take, they're one step closer to crossing that finish line.

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