If humans can climb the world’s most inhospitable mountains, together we can make sure everyone benefits from healthy lungs!
I'm sure you know that special feeling when you are out hiking a trail, walking in a park, or exploring a country side. Why exactly it is that nature draws so many of us out of our cities and towns in our free time? Maybe it is the scenery taking us back to our roots or the tranquility of being away from the hustle and bustle — or maybe it is that big, deep breath of refreshing mountain air that lures us to the trees.
Air pollution is a worldwide concern affecting all of us in a myriad of ways, even if we don't realize it. The first time I noticed air quality directly affecting my life was this past summer, during the widespread wildfires engulfing the western forests of the United States. I had moved to Seattle from Maryland, where wildfires are rarely on our minds. In my naïveté, I went to enjoy a late summer run and wasn’t more than 10 minutes in before I started gasping for breath, not realizing the smoke-filled air was taking its toll. It’s easy to see litter, bad waterway quality, and other forms of pollution, but the form affecting us most is one that is so easily overlooked. Since each and every one of us needs to breathe, (over 20,000 times a day for the average person), addressing air quality should be a top priority. Air pollution is detrimental to both human health and the condition of our planet.
As if air pollution wasn't alarming enough, that same smoky, August afternoon I also had another realization; I am lucky. I am not one of the almost 34 million Americans who suffer from chronic lung disease, but many of my loved ones are. As I walked home up the steep Seattle hills still struggling to catch my breath, I thought about my uncle who suffers from severe asthma, and one of my best friends who lives with sports-induced asthma. This is how those affected by lung disease feel on a regular basis. Air pollution affects all of us, but it has extremely negative consequences for those already struggling with lung function. Chances are you also know someone who faces the challenges of asthma, COPD, or lung cancer. By making a donation on my behalf, you will be helping the American Lung Association provide community-based education programs, fight for cleaner air standards and fund life-saving research. With your help, we will fight against lung disease and air pollution, and for lung health and higher air quality standards. We will be making a positive difference for all of the parents who have a child with asthma, the people who struggle daily with COPD, and the mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, children and friends who get diagnosed with lung cancer.
Every donation I receive helps make a bigger impact, and every little bit counts! Please help support my efforts to increase air quality. For human health and the health of our planet, donate now.
Together we can make a big difference! In the end…
Every mountain top is within reach if you just keep climbing.
~ Barry Finlay
Blog Post 1: Even a Stranger Makes a Big Impact
First, I would like to say thank you to all of my friends and family who have supported my climb! I could not do this without your encouragement and generous donations to the American Lung Association on my behalf. I have been wanting to write a blog post on this page since I started fundraising, though I didn't quite know where to start. Should I write about my training program? Would people really care about what I am doing to prepare for the summit ahead of me? I didn't know and still don't, but I can't be scared to put myself out there anymore.
The sudden change of heart hit me this past weekend (ironically on the big holiday of St. Patrick's Day), when I talked to a man who himself suffers from COPD. A fellow climber and I knew the city would be bustling on such a popular day so we decided to get to it, raising awareness about the American Lung Association and our climbs. As I was parading around with a sculpture of lungs that I had crafted the night before, a middle aged man came up to me asking what the message was we were sending. I started to give him the spiel, and I saw a look of appreciation in his eyes. He stopped me and said, "keep up the good work, this means a lot to people like me".
Turns out he is a 40 year old man who was diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and was eerily honest about the reality of early death caused by this form of lung disease. He said that he "learned the hard way" -- at the time of his habit, he was unaware of the damage he was doing to his body and is afraid others may make the same mistakes.
This man was at a bar, alone on a holiday. No one was talking to him and little did anyone, besides ultimately me, know that he was slowly dying as a result of something preventable. His story was extremely sad and hit me hard, but what hits harder is that this story is not uncommon. COPD affects millions of Americans and is the third leading cause of death in the U.S. Speaking to this stranger for a few minutes in a bar, inspired me more than I think he knows. It helped me to realize I need to put my story out there, and fully embrace what I am doing. Whether the money raised here helps educate a generation on the effects of smoking, donations from my climb are allocated to research projects on lung disease, or simply if this climb effort makes someone affected by lung disease feel supported there is the opportunity to make a difference. I shouldn't be afraid to spread the word and ask for help, because clean air impacts us all.
by Morgan Matthews on Wed, Mar 21, 2018 @ 4:14 PM