Why We Climb

Maria's Story

Ted’s Story


I first participated in the Climb for Clean Air program when I climbed Mt. Hood in 2006. Back then I didn’t know anything about the American Lung Association, but climbing a mountain with the program sounded like an interesting adventure. Boy, was I correct!

My youngest daughter suffers from asthma, so I was interested in learning more about the ALA’s mission. As I learned more about all the work the organization does trying to eliminate lung disease, I became very committed to raising money and supporting the cause. Like most of my fellow climbers, I had never raised money before. I was convinced I was going to fail and that none of my family and friends would ever speak to me again. Thankfully, I was so mistaken. By using the fundraising tools supplied by the ALA, I simply made a few changes to a form letter and emailed it to everyone I knew. For potential donors who were technology challenged, I simply sent a paper letter with a self-addressed stamped envelope. Within a few weeks I had already raised $5,000! It was amazing to see the support I received from friends, family, work colleagues, and casual acquaintances. After all was said and done, I had raised $7,700 for my climb. Since then, I have raised money for various ALA events like Reach the Beach, Fight for Air Stair Climb, and Ride Around the Sound. In 14 years, by utilizing the basic techniques provided by the ALA, I have raised over $30,000 for the organization. Most of my donors have donated multiple times.

The one thing that really impressed me though was the training program. The volunteer group leaders took us on hikes every weekend to get us in condition for our climb. The hikes were sometimes brutal, but I felt my body getting stronger. Each hike was a blast, as I made new life-long friends, learned a ton about gear, and just had a great time enjoying the natural beauty of Oregon. By the time I climbed Mt. Hood in mid-June, I was in great shape and had an amazing experience. Since that first climb, I’ve participated in a number of CFCA climbs including Mt. Rainier and Mt. Shasta. Each climb has been an awesome adventure.

Since my introduction to the program, I’ve gotten more involved with the organization. I became a volunteer hike assistant and was eventually asked to join the ALA Board of Directors -- first at the local level, then at the Regional level. I’ve served in a number of capacities on the board, including Board Chairman of the Mountain Pacific Region. In this capacity I oversaw the organization’s finances. A major highlight was being named a recipient of the four star rating by Charity Navigator. This is the highest rating awarded by the organization and is given to only those non-profit organizations that are financially solid, responsible, and spend money wisely in support of their mission. A donation to the ALA means 88 cents of every dollar is going directly to support research, education and advocacy programs.

Through my involvement with the ALA, I’ve seen first hand the difference being made in peoples’ lives. I’ve seen how the advancements in asthma treatments and medications have really helped my daughter thrive. As a young adult, she’s able to manage her asthma and she leads a very active life. We’re hoping to climb Mt. St. Helens together this Spring!

Over the years I’ve been able to hike and climb with many amazing people I’ve met through the program. I really enjoy watching people stretch themselves and achieve some pretty amazing goals. Whether it’s raising thousands of dollars, or getting themselves to the top of a 14,000 foot mountain, I’m always inspired by what comes out of the CFCA program. At the end of the day, we’re one big team, doing our part to make the world a better place by helping to eliminate lung disease, Because if you can’t breathe, nothing else matters!

    Libby’s Story


    I started climbing because once I learned of this program. I didn’t have any reason not to support the effort. I met a team of CFCA trainers in Tillamook forest on a wintery day, I stopped to chat, curious to find out why these folks were as crazy as I to be out there on such a day. What did I find? Great people on a fantastic mission I wanted in on. I signed up later that night to help the world in my own little way. I wanted to help with this fight against sickness and disease that impacts families everywhere in the world, no one should die because they can’t breathe, a basic human need.

    My family and friends have been touched by these diseases I'm saddened to say. I've learned the hard way that lung disease is very unpredictable, isn't included in a standard medical check or supported by insurance to proactively check humans for lung disease and kills people extremely quickly.

    • My young 54-year-old aunt died in December 2019 from lung cancer, leaving 4 kids and several grandkids without her support. She found out only 2 months earlier she had cancer! She needed the pre-screening requirements ALA is fighting for.
    • My neighbor smokes and his wife is stricken with COPD. Does he think this helps her breath better by subjecting her to the one thing she ails from? He needs education that ALA brings.
    • A dear friend and co-worker of 10 years died in her 50's from lung cancer and didn't even smoke. She too could probably have been saved if the cancer was found before stage 4.
    • My father in-law struggled with COPD before his passing in 2019. Learning how to take better care of himself and quit smoking support from ALA could have extended his life.

    The Climb for Clean Air program is not only supporting extremely important work but delivers a life changing experience. The motivation to get into top shape this program puts into place has helped me to lose weight, reduce stress, combat and prevent health issues. Conquering and/or attempting to conquer a mountain, well it makes me humble, everyone needs a reminder of how we are all human and a healthy respect for nature. I’ve always had a love for nature, however the comradery and support from the other teammates and volunteers has be a blessing. Challenging myself and supporting others to accomplish these large Mt climbing goals really helps put and keep life in perspective.

    Now I'm personally humbled. I've summited many little mountains in my training, too many to mention. However, so far, haven't summitted my Mt Hood or Mt Rainer attempts. I had elevation sickness on Mt Hood that actually I believe happened for a good reason since it ended up in the long run saving my husband's life. And Mt Rainier, well, I needed more practice; walking in crampons in rocky sand and the mental readiness of hearing rock and ice fall constantly, along with deep scary glaciers right next to the snow packed path. With both I've learned a ton on what to improve on and change to make the next attempts at the summit. However, more importantly I've enjoyed the adventure to support a great cause and not to be frustrated when a summit doesn't happen because it is only a small part of the journey. Definitely NOT the most important part. I will always be learning more, that is the most critical learning about mountaineering for me.

    Eartha’s Story


    Gabe was born with rare congenital heart defect called pulmonary atresia. He was missing the pulmonary artery connection from the heart to the right lung. As a result of this defect he has a very small and non-functional lung on his right side. As a result of this congenital defect he suffers from secondary pulmonary hypertension. No one else in our family suffers from lung disease.

    When Gabe was born he was a beautiful baby boy with a full head of thick brown hair. When Gabe was 6 months old he dropped off the growth chart. His pediatrician was concerned about his low weight. They tested him for everything under sun including cystic fibrosis and celiac disease. We tried everything we could to feed him high fat/caloric foods. It was frustrating when he would lose all the weight he had gained, as he was frequently sick. He ended up twice in the hospital with pneumonia. It was horrible seeing your baby being poked and pricked with IV's and not knowing why he continued to get sick.

    When Gabe was about 18 months we went on a camping trip with our church in Estes Park (altitude of 7,522 feet). In the middle of the night, in our tent, Gabe had what we thought was a seizure and stopped breathing. I was trained as a nurse and started CPR as we quickly ran him down to a neighbor’s RV. He quickly started breathing again but his color was frighteningly pale. We threw everything in our car and headed down to our home in Loveland, Colorado. On the way down we called his pediatrician and they suspected a seizure disorder (not the correct diagnosis). For the next couple weeks as we waited to be evaluated by a neurologist, Gabe continued to have these episodes on a nightly basis, almost every night. They started as he made a scary sound with his breathing, his eyes would roll back, as we held him and tried to arouse him and then would slowly come to. Watching this was puzzling and heartbreaking.

    The wait to see a pediatric neurologist who took insurance was at least 2 months! So we elected to self-pay to get into a highly recommended neurologist in Denver in 2 weeks. Gabe had an EEG and was thoroughly evaluated by this doctor. Thankfully during this exam, Gabe became upset and proceeded to have a severe episodes on his exam table. The doctor calmly listened to Gabe's heart and lungs as we nervously looked on, knowing he would help stimulate his breathing if needed. After taking a thorough history and seeing this episode he told us that he did not think he had a neurologic condition. He suspected (correctly) that is was a heart/lung condition and that we should take Gabe to the hospital immediately. After navigating the ER and advocating strongly for further testing, a CT scan showed Gabe's small lung and pulmonary atresia. At this time it was clear that Gabe was not suffering from a neurologic condition, he was dropping his oxygen until he would pass out. Once he passed out, he would relax, and come to again. At this time Gabe was on oxygen in the hospital and at home 24/7. I remember taking him to the playground with his oxygen tank and tubing as he navigated the playground.

    After being seen by a barrage of doctors (all were interested in Gabe's rare condition). We were connected with Dr. Dunbar Ivy at Denver Children's who is probably the most accomplished pediatrician in the field of pulmonary hypertension. He and a whole team of doctors came up with a plan for a two-step surgery to try and regrow the right lung and reconnect it.

    We took the advice of Dr. Ivy and his team. Gabe has had two open heart surgeries and multiple heart catheterizations. We ended up moving away from Colorado as a family because we discovered that high altitude was not good for Gabe's pulmonary hypertension. Currently Gabe is followed by a cardiologist and pulmonary doctor. He takes two very expensive medications for his pulmonary hypertension that prevent his heart/lung pressures from rising and prevents damage to his heart and lungs.

    Other than daily medication, bi-yearly doctor visits, and the occasional out-patient heart catheterization Gabe lives a pretty normal life for an 18 year old. When he was young Gabe was eventually taken off oxygen but couldn't keep up with his peers physically and wasn't able to participate in organized sports. Thankfully, we discovered that playing tennis, he was able to pace himself, allowing him to play in high school. He has to limit his activity a bit and slow down if he feels short of breath. He enjoys playing tennis and can beat his Mom now for sure. I am thankful that he stays active, eats well and is good about taking his medication. He leaves Wednesday to start college at University of San Diego. I remember his Pediatrician saying at one point that he wasn't sure if Gabe was going to make it that first year, we are thankful that with good medical care, medications and a lot of fight the doctor was wrong on that front.

    I heard about Climb for Clean Air, which raises funds for the American Lung Association, when I went into REI looking for some socks. I met Ted Zurcher and he told me about the program. Ted is one of the amazing volunteers for the program. It has been a life changing experience. I have lost over 20 pounds, met some amazing folks, raised over $4,250 for the ALA, and have summited Mt. Rainier, Mt. Hood, and Mt. Adams this year.

    I decided to get involved with Climb for Clean Air because it combined two of my passions. Climbing and hiking, and supporting lung health. I love that ALA educates and encourages a healthy lifestyle for optimizing lung health. It is also important to me that they support ground breaking research that could make a difference in my son's and others' lung health. On that note, besides my son, another inspiration for my participation was a family who befriended us during Gabe's treatment. They had a little girl named Suzie who had a similar condition to Gabe. They moved across the country from Aspen to Vermont (her Dad was a ski instructor) for her to be at lower altitude and they tirelessly cared for her. She died of the flu (a common risk for those with lung conditions), not long after they moved.

    I think my son is proud of me but he doesn't talk about it much. I think he prefers to keep it low key, he is a teenager.

    The training for CFCA is amazing. I was already an avid hiker, but I learned a lot this year. As I mentioned, the volunteers spend a lot of time organizing and teaching the new CFCA climbers. They have lots methods and techniques that they teach climbers to make their climbs go more seamlessly. These include pressure breathing and various climbing techniques. They also take us on climbs almost every weekend. The climbs gradually get more difficult to increase our stamina. We also carry more and more weight as we progress. I worked up to a hike on Mt. Defiance with a 30 lb. pack which was really difficult, but important to prepare me for Mt. Rainier. I have met so many amazing, like minded folks participating with Climb for Clean Air. I am hoping to continue to climb and volunteer with many of them.

    Annie P.

    CFCA-Annie-Why-I-Climb.jpgFor many, Oregon is viewed as a pristine, lush, and beautiful environment that is perfect for nature lovers. Anyone from serious hikers to recreational explorers can find something to enjoy about Oregon’s scenery. From deep forest to soaring mountaintop, Oregon is home to a variety of landscapes that can mesmerize any wilderness adventurer.

    When she was 12 years old, Annie, attended her first downhill ski racing summer camp on Mt. Hood. A passionate skier, Annie quickly formed a love for Oregon’s highest peak and its year-round glacier snowpack. Now as a mother of two lively boys, Annie spends nearly every winter weekend teaching her own children how to ski on her beloved Mt. Hood.

    Annie's active lifestyle is directly connected to her love of the outdoors and a healthy planet. In 2016, researchers discovered that her local neighborhood and home were in a direct hot spot of toxic air emissions and heavy metal pollutants due to a nearby manufacturing company and poor state regulatory policies. This raised serious concerns as she and her neighbors considered where their children played, went to school, and how they might be negatively affected by their surrounding urban environment. As a result, Annie joined the East Portland Air Coalition whose mission is to change Oregon's laws and protect communities. It was through this organization that Annie learned about the American Lung Association’s Climb for Clean Air fundraising challenge.

    This program, which is specific to the Oregon and Washington Northwest region, raises over $300,000 to support community-based education programs, fight for cleaner air standards, and fund life-saving research. In addition to the fundraising goal, participants commit to summiting 1 of 3 major northwest mountain peaks, and Mt. Hood was on the list!

    For Annie's 40th birthday, she decided to take on the Climb for Clean Air challenge, combining a cause she believed in clean air and healthy lungs with her passion for the outdoors and love of Mt. Hood. Annie successfully reached her fundraising goal, raising $4,000 with the help of her friends and family, and some creative fundraising events (including a clothing donation drive, garage sale, and lemonade/popsicle stand). And at long last, at 11 pm on the evening of May 30, 2019, it was time to climb Mt. Hood.

    Geared up with headlamps, cramp-ons, and ice-axes, and beneath a pristine, starlit sky, the climbing team set out in the middle of the night with the goal of reaching the summit just in time to catch the sunrise around 5 am. Six hours later, Annie stood at the 11,250 ft. mountain peak and witnessed a spectacular sunrise from atop Mt. Hood! The experience left Annie motivated and inspired to take on whatever challenge may come next. As Dr. Seuss, one of Annie and her kids’ favorite children’s book authors, says: “You’re off to Great Places! Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting, so… get on your way!”


    CFCA-Christopher-Why-I-Climb.jpgOver Christmas break 2017 back in New Hampshire at my parents, I had just finished reading Into Thin Air. I have always thought the idea of Everest was really cool, knowing that it was far beyond my reach. A few days later, I happened upon an article about a man named Nick Talbot, a 40-year-old British climber with Cystic Fibrosis a chronic lung disease, that summited Everest in 2016.

    I was 27 at that time. I had/have cystic fibrosis. I had spent the better part of those 27 years never telling anyone that I had CF. I grew up believing that I’d be lucky to see adulthood. After all most teenagers with CF at that point in time had already had 1 or 2 lung transplants. I was always determined from a young age to do everything a “normal” person could without letting anything hold me back. Nobody was going to tell me I couldn’t do anything. I think it was that determination that led me to be so physically active growing up which is largely the reason I am still here today.

    Having moved to Washington in the fall of 2015, I had seen Mount Rainier from an airplane window and from the summit of Crystal Mountain in the summertime. I remember thinking how cool it would be to stand on the top of it. I never gave it much thought after that because I guess I thought it was a little too much like Everest only amazingly fit and healthy people with lots of money can do that.

    Upon returning to Washington after that Christmas back in NH, after reading that a man with CF stood atop Everest, I knew I had to do something amazing. I knew after I read that, that I could climb Rainier. I wasn’t sure how but I was going to do it. Maybe it wasn’t Everest, but to me, it might as well have been. I’m almost positive that within a few hours of me deciding I was going to climb Rainier, I saw a post on Facebook about the Climb For Clean Air Fundraiser. Climb Rainier while raising money for the American Lung Association. Honestly how much more perfectly of a match could I have found? Without hesitation, I signed up to climb Mount Rainier with the American Lung Association’s Climb For Clean Air.

    Its been over a year now since I signed up and I can’t stop thinking about it. About the mountain. About the doors it opened up and the passion it ignited. Climb for Clean air changed my life. It let me open up for the first time in my life. While doing the fundraising portion, I made the decision to let people really know why I wanted to climb Rainier. Why it was so important to me. For the first time in 27 years, I told people about myself. I told them how I had first-hand experience with lung disease. I said out loud to people that weren’t family that I had Cystic Fibrosis. I told them how much I wanted to support the lung association. I told them how much it meant to me that I attempt to climb that mountain. The support people showed me was incredible. I was able to meet my fundraising goal with time to spare.

    With fundraising done, all that was left to do was climb. When June finally came around, the excitement and nervousness of it all were almost overwhelming. I wasn’t sure how my body would do at altitude. But I was determined to give it everything I had. 2 days worth of climbing later with a whole bunch of incredible people and guides, we had made the trip to the summit and back. I had made it. I was still standing. I was still breathing. I was beyond tired, but I did it.

    I have struggled since then trying to tell people what it was like. Trying to explain why that mountain has such a hold on me now. I’m not sure I can ever fully explain it. I can just say that climbing “The Mountain” as part of the Climb for Clean Air Campaign let me open myself up for the first time. It let me prove to myself that I really can do anything. It let me do all that while raising money for a cause that is so near and dear to me.

    I hope I can inspire others in similar situations to push themselves. To go out into the mountains and find themselves. To never let the fear of some supposed limitation be a barrier to living life to its fullest.

    Past Climber


    Rebecca MacAskill

    CFCA Rebecca MacAskill-Why I climbEver since my dad, Dan MacAskill, got diagnosed with lung cancer- I have been involved with the American Lung Association. 1st, was to show support for him while going through treatment in the Chicago Fight for Air Climb in the Presidential Towers (organized by my dear group of friends!). Then, after the cancer took him from us, I have continued to climb and be involved for several reasons. Some of which are: continuing his memory, coping and making something positive out of something so awful, working with a great organization to help others with lung cancer and families going through what we did, find a cure for Lung Disease, to promote healthy lifestyles and much more!

    I did the Seattle Fight for Air Climb of Rainier Tower and then I "upped" my game and climbed the ACTUAL MOUNTAIN - Mt Rainier! There were many thoughts and emotions running through me before making this decision, but I committed and I did it!

    Rebecca MacAskill
    Mt. Rainier


    Greg James

    CFCA Greg James - Why I ClimbMany people have asked why I climb mountains, why take the risk, why put my body through it? The answer is easy and complicated at the same time.

    Growing up in the Pacific Northwest, the city of Portland, OR, my parents took the family camping many times to the Cascade Mountains. I always loved the beauty of the mountains, the smell of the pine trees, and just being out in nature. The house we lived in, every morning when I walked from my bedroom on the 2nd story of our house to downstairs, I’d pass a window at the top of the 2nd floor. It was like a picture frame. Looking out that window, some 50 miles away, was Mt. Hood, a stratovolcano that stood at 11,240 ft. Always snow covered and a sight I never tired of, nor would I ever forget. I can still see the image in my mind to this day!

    In the summer following my 6th grade year of school, my parents moved the family to Springfield, IL. The car journey from Portland to Springfield was an adventure, seeing many wonderful places across the United States as we traveled. But, holy cow, the Midwest is flat! Growing up in Portland, OR, just miles from our house was a hill (butte), actually an extinct cinder cone, that we would climb for fun. How different Springfield, IL was, and I truly missed my picture window view of Mt. Hood.

    Fast forward 25+ years. I was living in the Chicago area with my wife Brenda and 4 kids (Stephen, Sarah, Scott, and Sydney). It’s the morning of September 11, 2001. My wife and I just spent a very sleepless night in the reclining chairs of our 1+ year old daughter Sydney’s hospital room. She was admitted on September 10th with difficulty breathing and was now in an oxygen tent. If that wasn’t traumatic enough, you can only imagine the impact of what we saw when we turned on the TV that morning! I felt like I was in a crazy dream and any moment I would wake up, because my daughter being ill and in an oxygen tent, terrorists crashing passenger jets into buildings…just couldn’t be real. Unfortunately, both were very real. Our country healed and my daughter Sydney recovered from her ordeal, though she was diagnosed with Asthma. It was a life changing day.

    Fast forward another 8 years and still living in the Chicago area. I’m working in my home office, it’s a normal day, at least on my scale of normality. I’ve been experiencing a dull pain in the middle of my back for a couple days. It has now become annoying. Thinking my back just needs to be popped, I arch my back really hard and suddenly realize it has nothing to do with my back. We all know the feeling of intuition. While I didn’t have any of the classic symptoms, I knew deep in my mind exactly what was wrong. A quick reaction to down a bunch of aspirin, exhaling frequently with a rapid burst of air (kind of like a hard cough) and taking an ambulance ride to the hospital, all within 30-45 minutes, was literally a life saver. Skipping all the drama of the discovery process the emergency room doctors went through in evaluating me, as they initially didn’t believe my condition was what I believed deep in my mind it was. I was “too young” they said, not a “typical case” they said. Regardless, a few hours later and an angioplasty to clear a 100% blocked LAD (main artery of the heart) and I was the proud recipient of a “new and improved” mesh stent. Another life changing day.

    I was now labeled with heart disease by my doctors. Don’t get me wrong, there are millions of people truly afflicted with heart disease, and I will never minimize that condition. But I didn’t have heart disease. In my case, the medical label of heart disease was just a medical excuse for what I really had, bad life style disease. My life style was simple, 40+ lbs. overweight, eating whatever I wanted, maybe drinking beer too often, sleeping too little, stressing out too much, and never, ever exercising. Geez, I was a time bomb waiting to go off! Vowing to never return to a hospital for bad life style disease, I went on a mission to cure myself.

    Three years later, it’s now 2012. I was traveling weekly to the Seattle area for work. To keep in shape, a friend and I began hiking after work. I’m now back in my childhood element, the Cascade Mountains, enjoying the beauty of the mountains, the smell of the pine trees, and just being out in nature. I’m 40+ lbs. lighter since 2009 and hiking trails that take me higher and higher up mountains. That same summer, my oldest son Stephen was with me in Seattle and we took a day trip to Mt. Rainier (14,410 ft.). We did a short 2-mile hike up to a very accessible area on the mountain called Panorama Point (6,200 ft.). Standing at Panorama Point, enjoying the 360-degree view, I looked up towards the summit. A switch flipped, and I was hooked, “I’m going to climb this mountain," I proclaimed out loud!

    My desire to climb Mt. Rainier and my desire to contribute to others afflicted with Asthma, became one when I stumbled across the American Lung Association’s “Climb for Clean Air” program. Climbing mountains to support a cause I truly believed in and supported? Perfect, I was all in! My first attempt was in 2013. It was an unsuccessful attempt and I learned then that for any number of reasons the summit of the mountain is not always attainable. But I continue the attempt. I really don’t know any other way.

    I can’t begin to imagine what it is like to have difficulty breathing due to a condition such as Asthma, COPD, Cystic Fibrosis, etc. I’m pretty much a baby when I get a head cold with blocked sinuses and I have to breathe through my mouth. Watching my daughter Sydney play high school soccer this spring, she would be running hard and suddenly put her hand in air. She would continue to play, raising her hand in the air again when she could. The hand in air was a signal to her coach that she needed either her inhaler or a substitute player for her position. Sometimes play would continue for minutes before one of those conditions were met due to regulations of play stoppage. But she would continue running, continue playing. When she finally got off the field, she would bend over, trying desperately to get air into her lungs! Dang, I would’ve just stopped running!

    When climbing mountains, as the elevation increases, I begin to experience on a small scale what it is like to be afflicted with a lung condition. At the summit of Mt. Rainier there is approx. 40% less oxygen than sea level. At the summit of Mt. Everest, 1/3 of the oxygen! But what I experience while climbing is short lived. The more I descend, the easier it is to breathe. For someone with a lung condition, it doesn’t change, it is a constant part of their life.

    Why I climb?

    • I climb, because I want to make a difference for those who can’t breathe normally, at sea level, on a normal day.

    • I climb because I refuse to suffer again from bad life style disease. I climb because God has blessed me with the ability to do so, and in doing so, make a difference in others lives.

    So, at the age of 54, I’ll continue to climb until I’m unable to do so any longer.

    Greg James
    Mt. Hood

    Davren's Story


    This journey is a very personal one for me. In the past four years I lost both of my parents to lung cancer. First my father in 2011 after 5 and half months of battling it, he was 44 years old. My mother then in late September 2015 after battling it for 18 months. She passed one day before her 48th birthday. This is too young to die. They had so much more to live for, but due to this horrible disease they could not. I’m here helping to raise money for lung disease research so that one day others don’t have to sit by their loved one’s side and endure these diseases.

    Davren Bell
    Mt. Rainier


    Steve's Story

    Steve-Steven-Papp-2008Steve Papp, Sr. and Steve Papp, Jr. have shared many Oregon trails together. Hiking to the summit of Mt. Hood was a special memory for both of them for two reasons: The physical challenge and to honor the memory of wife and mother, Jeannette M. Papp. Jeannette was a long time smoker and passed away from lung cancer at the age of 61. With the support of friends, family and the Lung Association they were able to find a way through this family tragedy and honor Jeannette`s memory.

    Mom was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota. Neither she nor my dad told the family about the stage 4 part of the diagnosis because they wanted all of us to remain positive and to help her fight the cancer as long as she possibly could.

    Nearly six months to the day of my mom passing away, my dad and I stood on the top of Mount Hood. However, we could not have done this alone. The greatest memory of this event was more than being at the top of the mountain. It was the support we received from family and friends to reach our fundraising goal and to honor my mom's memory through this climb.

    Steve Papp, Jr.
    Mt. Hood


    Leisa's Story

    Leisa VandeheyMy reasons for participating in the American Lung Association's Climb for Clean Air were...

    • I believed that my participation and the physical training would help "guarantee" that I would not start smoking again. After numerous attempts to quit over many years, I had successfully quit a few months before I learned about the event. I wanted to celebrate this accomplishment and reaffirm my commitment to a healthier lifestyle by making a commitment to join the team.

    • I wanted to accomplish my personal goal of climbing a glaciered peak.

    • Supporting the American Lung Association by raising money and awareness for the work they do is in line with aspects of my work as an employee of the Multnomah County Health Department.

    Although there are no "guarantees" in life, I feel great about reaching my personal goals as well as Reaching the Summit of beautiful Mt. Adams. I am inspired to continue to push past my comfort zone to accomplish more of my life's goals.

    Leisa Vandehey,
    Mt. Adams


    Wendy's Story

    Wendy BarnesThe program brought together many things in my life - the need to do something adventurous and challenging, the chance to honor my Mother's memory and to help in the fight against lung disease.

    My Mom died of cancer in 2003 and it brought awareness to me the struggle that cancer brings to a family and the need for ongoing research into prevention and possible cures.

    I have worked eighteen years for a group of physicians who are pulmonary specialists and see patients for lung diseases such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and lung cancer. My climb gave me cause to remember many of these wonderful patients and their courageous attitudes.

    As a native Oregonian I grew up in Salem and have looked at Mt Hood my whole life. To have the opportunity to climb to the summit was an incredible journey! I was drawn to this program because of the personal challenge and the chance to be on a team supporting the American Lung Association.

    Wendy Barnes,
    Mt. Hood


    Katie's Story

    Katie WilliamsMy family has a long history of lung disease and cancer. Both my maternal grandparents died of lung cancer and I myself had lung problems as the result of a smoking habit that began at the very young age of 14. I repeatedly got chronic bronchitis every year, which made it very difficult to breathe. It wasn't until after both my mother's parents died of lung cancer and my own progressive problems that I decided to quit at age 24, and never went back. In addition to this both my husband Jim and I have lost our moms to cancer and a very close friend of my stepdaughter suffers from asthma.

    Lung disease is all around us and I am committed to doing something to make a difference. My motivation to make this climb is the memory of all our loved ones who are suffering or have lost their battle with these debilitating lung diseases, and raising funds and awareness for the American Lung Association. My climb was truly a 'mountain top' experience and one I will never forget."

    Katie Williams,
    Mt. Hood


    Ed's Story

    Ed NeumannThe best success stories generally have one thing in common: support from someone, an individual or an organization, that had knowledge and resources to facilitate that accomplishment. For recovering smokers, the American Lung Association is often vital in their challenge to become, and remain, 'smoke free'. For me, this event was as an opportunity to help give that others may benefit from its lung health education, support and research programs.

    Having never participated in fund raising or considered mountain climbing, I also recognized that committing to the climb was an opportunity to stretch my personal 'envelope', go places I had never even envisioned and do things I had never imagined. I signed up immediately so I wouldn't have a chance to change my mind.

    What was it like? How did it feel? Only by making the commitment, setting a goal of raising at least the required donations, training for six months and then reaching the summit, achieving your fund raising and mountain top goals, will you truly know. I can only say I felt a strong sense of satisfaction when the fund raising goal was met. And I can share that, within the moment of the last five steps to the summit, and the five deep breaths of air it took to make them, was one of the most powerful and satisfying experiences of my lifetime.

    Ed Neumann,
    Mt. Adams


    Breathing difficulties are not a normal part of aging. If you know someone who struggles to breathe, have them see their doctor. It just might save their life.

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