Why we climb

Improving lung health, one step at a time

Need a sure sign that spring is just around the corner? To the list of popular markers, such as baseball teams setting up camp in Florida and Arizona, or the Easter bunny hopping around the mall, I suggest adding one more: the American Lung Association Fight for Air Climb in Milwaukee.

If you’re not familiar with it, the Fight for Air Climb challenges participants to scale 1,034 steps to the top of the U.S. Bank Center in downtown Milwaukee.  That’s 47 floors or 94 flights of stairs, depending on how you like to count!

The Fight for Air Climb is both inspirational and challenging, making it one of the best ways I know to shake off the winter doldrums and restart your fitness goals.

This year’s event takes place on March 18, with proceeds benefitting the life-improving work of the American Lung Association in Wisconsin.

Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield is proud to be able to say that we’ve been a sponsor the Fight for Air Climb since it began back in 2009, back when it was called “Climb Wisconsin.”  When we signed on, we didn’t know if anyone would show up, but we were confident in the concept and the American Lung Association in Wisconsin’s ability to put on a quality event.  Little did we know what “the Climb” would become.

Wisconsin’s event is now the largest American Lung Association stair climb event of its kind in the country – surpassing larger markets, such as Chicago and New York, both in terms of fundraising and participants. Over the last three years, Milwaukee’s Fight for Air Climb has attracted more than 8,500 participants and generated more than $2 million.

Beyond the fun and fitness aspects of the event, there is a very important reason the thousands of people taking on the stairs come out to participate: lung health.

When you think about the American Lung Association, you likely think of smoking cessation programs, and, without a doubt, the organization does great work in that area. However, what you might not know is that the American Lung Association is working to improve lung health for all Americans by focusing on environmental and health issues, such as air pollution, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and asthma.

Unfortunately, one need not look very far to find a personal connection to the event. One in 13 people in the United States has asthma and more than 15 million Americans have been diagnosed with COPD.

The funds raised through the Fight for Air Climb go to support the American Lung Association, including its important funding of research and treatment programs that help people breathe a bit easier.

When you attend the event, you do not have to look around for long to see why so many people are there. T-shirts and signs in the crowd explain how people are climbing for a lost family member, for those who cannot make the climb on their own, and for children struggling with asthma.  It’s a powerful reminder of why we are all there and how the fundraising dollars generated by the event will make a difference long after the last climber leaves the stairwell.

At Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield, we climb because we share the American Lung Association’s passion for helping people live their healthiest life possible and to making sure that care and treatment reach those who need it most.

We’re also proud to be the presenting sponsor of the “Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Firefighter Challenge,” an event-within-the-event that pits local fire departments and first responders against one another in a friendly competition up the stairs.  The firefighters make the climb with their full gear on.  It’s truly a sight to be seen and a powerful reminder of how these public servants put their lives on the line every day to serve our communities.

Last year’s winning firefighter team was the West Allis Fire Department and the top first responder fundraising team was the Lauderdale/LaGrange Fire Department. We look forward to seeing if these departments are destined to repeat, or if a different municipality will secure the 2017 bragging rights.

If you have not yet experienced the Fight for Air Climb, don’t wait any longer.  A fun way to get started is by forming a corporate team.  Climbing the stairs with your colleagues is a great team builder and is something you’ll likely be swapping stories all year long. To get started, visit fightforairclimb.org.

See you at the top!

What is COPD?

COPD is a serious lung disease that makes it hard to breathe. It causes people to get very sick and can make a person unable to work or do everyday tasks.

People over the age of 40 who smoke or used to smoke have a higher risk for COPD. So do people who have worked or lived around chemicals or fumes.

Some of the symptoms of COPD include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Wheezing
  • A cough that won’t go away
  • Feeling like you can’t breathe
  • Trouble taking a deep breath
  • Getting tired easily when doing simple tasks like walking, climbing stairs, bathing, dressing or doing chores

If you have any of these symptoms, it’s best to talk to your doctor. He or she can tell you for sure if it’s COPD or something else.

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