Why We Climb

We climb for our friends and loved ones who suffer from lung cancer and all lung diseases. Let's make sure everyone can benefit from healthy lungs.

Michelle Alarid
Michelle Alarid

My name is Michelle Alarid, and this is why I make Every Step Count

I am a Gulf War veteran fighting a new battle with stage 4 lung cancer. But lung cancer won’t stop me from climbing stairs at Coors Field this year to raise awareness and critical funds for new lung cancer treatments. I’m climbed last year at Republic Plaza for myself and others with lung disease.

I have so much to live for.

My husband, Mark Waldo, and I love to walk, hike and ski. I prided myself on good health, then suddenly back in 2015, I got the diagnosis. It took me by shock, really it did. It was just a big surprise when they found a cancer mass in my right lung. I never a smoked. The doctors linked the cancer to her six months as a combat medic in the Persian Gulf War. Because of all the oil I’d breathe in that was burning out there and the burn pits, I was just blowing out black stuff every day from just breathing that in. And while surgery removed the mass in my lung, just 18 months later, they found two masses in my brain.

I underwent stereotactic radiosurgery to precisely target the tumors and I’m now on a targeted therapy. I’m on the best drug that they have out there right now, but we need even better therapies. That’s why in 2019 and 2020, I joined the Fight for Air Climb, and I’ll do it again this year to raise awareness and money for a lung cancer cure!

Climb Your Way

My name is Susan Warmerdam, and this is why I make Every Step Count

Nine years ago, I was diagnosed with Stage 4 Lung Cancer that had spread to my lymph nodes and adrenal gland. It had gone undetected for five to seven years. I never smoked, and I felt fine (except for an allergy-like cough), so hearing that I had an inoperable and incurable disease - with a 50% chance of living a year and 1.6% of surviving five years - brought about a plethora of emotions hard to describe.

Despite the hopeless medical statistics, I was determined to do everything within my control to fight my disease. I did extensive research in both western medicine and holistic practices, and took every step to embrace wellness and get the best medical care possible. I received treatment at Northwestern (which included two years on a daily targeted cancer treatment drug, one clinical trial, and ultimately three surgeries). I grew my faith exponentially. I practiced numerous alternative methods. And, I completely changed my diet - eliminating sugar, meats and dairy - and moved to a primarily plant-based diet. I believe all of these things worked together to help me beat the number one cancer killer… I've been off all treatment for seven years!

I have made it my passion to bring as much awareness to lung cancer and raise as much money for research as I can (my chemo drug started out as an experimental treatment for my type of cancer and helped prolong my life - all thanks to research). I want to help prevent this horrible disease, which took my father’s life in 1999 and several friends' lives since then, from affecting others. I am a spokesperson for the American Lung Association, who has given me a platform from which to advocate and fundraise. Together with my friends, family and colleagues, we have raised over $430,000 and funded seven lung cancer research studies to help find the causes, prevention, early detection and more personalized treatments for lung cancer.

Like most of the population, I thought lung cancer was a smokers' disease, but ANYONE CAN GET LUNG CANCER. There are 541,000 people living today that have been diagnosed with lung cancer (65% of them have never smoked or are former smokers that had quit). I climb to bring awareness to and raise money for lung cancer research. Please support all those who have been touched by the disease.

Thank you for your generous support and for giving all of us hope for a cure.

Kathy Reno

My name is Kathy Reno, and this is why I make Every Step Count

I climb because no one should struggle to breathe. I have asthma and I know how scary it is when it is hard to breathe. Climbing 71 flights is very hard for someone with asthma, but I have done this for three years and it is so rewarding.

I starting climbing five years ago when Geri Bresnihan, who I met in Jazzercise convinced me that I am stronger than I thought I was. She met me and we practiced stair climbing and I did 30 flights the first time and thought I could do this! It pushed me outside my comfort zone to ask for donations, but now I enjoy fundraising.

If you are thinking of climbing - you can do it! The office I work at is four stories and we practice doing interval training on the stairs twice a week. We go up four flights, down two, up two flights, down four and up four flights. That is ten flights. We start at ten flights around the first of the year and work up to 71 flights. You can do it!

The American Lung Association is the leading organization dedicated to saving lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease through education, advocacy and research. The Lung Association provides support and education for those living with asthma, lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and fighting external threats to lung health such as tobacco, air pollution, and more. And we all need to breathe!

Stacy Ohlsson

My name is Stacy Ohlsson, and this is why I make Every Step Count

Hi, I'm Stacy, and I’ve dealt with chronic asthma for longer than I care to remember. Then six years ago I was diagnosed with COPD (Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), a chronic inflammatory lung disease that causes obstructed airflow from the lungs. These lung conditions can make living at altitude quite a challenge. Some days just catching my breath is a test of will, and then there is the coughing for no reason and wheezing that comes with COPD. The fires in 2020 added additional concerns as air quality greatly impacts how I feel day to day, and limits my ability to get outdoors and exercise.

But despite these serious lung issues, I’ve stayed determined to do everything within my control to fight for maximum lung health. I’ve fielded Team Move your Ass-thma and served as a spokesperson for the American Lung Association in Colorado to increase awareness of what is possible despite living with my lung conditions. Its my passion to bring as much awareness to asthma and COPD and raise as much money for research as I can. From 2017-2020, I managed the Fight for Air Climb event committee and helped the Denver climb event raise over $700,000! I’m excited to take part in this year’s first-ever Coors Field climb, and hope you will join me. Together, we’ll have fun while fundraising to increase local and national efforts to find the causes, prevention, early detection and more personalized treatments for these chronic, progressive lung conditions like mine.

Thank you for your generous support and for giving all of us hope for lung health.