Participants climb nearly 1,200 steps around Progressive Field’s lower bowl as part of the American Lung Association’s Fight For Air Climb to take place April 30. Photograph courtesy of the American Lung Association

American Lung Association’s Fight for Air Climb set for April 30
Nine minutes and fifty-four seconds. That’s how long it took me to climb 42 floors – a total of 804 steps – up to the observation deck of Cleveland’s Terminal Tower when I participated in the American Lung Association’s Fight For Air Climb in 2014 to mark my 50th birthday. The event was not super challenging for me since climbing stairs has been part of my regular exercise routine since my high-school days. But it was a meaningful way to mark a milestone birthday while participating in a very worthy cause. I placed fifth for women in my age group.
More recently, the American Lung Association moved their annual event to Key Tower (58 floors, 1349 steps) and, since 2021, it’s been at Progressive Field where participants make their way up and down 1,190 steps around the stadium’s lower bowl. No matter the location, as participants huff and puff their way through the event, they can’t help but appreciate their lungs while recognizing that those with lung disease may experience that winded feeling with every breath every day.
This year’s climb is April 30 and it will mark the ninth consecutive year of participating for Danielle Kresak of Parma. She sees it as continuing her mission to help fund a cure for lung cancer and honor her late grandparents who both died of the disease. This year she will be tackling the stairs with her team, “You’ve Got NYCZ Lungs” and her two sons, age seven and 10 will climb with her, as will her father. “I am most passionate about the research that this event funds and to help find treatments and cures for lung diseases such as lung cancer, asthma and COPD. I don’t want my boys to witness the ugliness or have to go through any of those illnesses,” she said.
Danielle’s team name is in honor of her grandparents. “Their last name (and my maiden name) was Nycz (pronounced “Nize”) so it’s like saying you have Nycz lungs or nice lungs.”
This event – which is one of 40 around the country – begins at 9 a.m. except for climbers designated as Ultimate Climbers. These participants will have one hour – from 8 to 9 a.m. – to make it around the stadium as many times as they can. There is a $35 entrance fee for “regular” climbers (known as Stadium Climbers), and a $50 fee for Ultimate Climbers. The event is a fundraiser, after all, and the Lung Association is hoping to raise nearly $130,000 from an expected turnout of more than 500 climbers.
The non-profit American Lung Association, “works to defeat lung cancer, improve the air we breathe, reduce the burden of lung disease on individuals and their families, eliminate tobacco use and tobacco-related diseases,” says Kim Covey, Executive Director of the Lung Association in Ohio. Ninety cents of every dollar raised by the ALA goes directly to education, research and advocacy.
For each Stadium Climber, the minimum fundraising requirement is $100 and for each Ultimate Climber, it’s $250. Climbers have until event day to raise the money. Walk-on registration the day of the event is allowed. If a climber hasn’t met the minimum fundraising requirement, organizers will ask the climber to pay it before participating.
Each year, firefighters from around 10 to 20 area fire departments participate in the Climb while wearing about 50 pounds of gear. Zach Lapuh, a firefighter with the Cleveland Fire Department who will be doing his sixth climb this year, says it’s a great event to be a part of. “The climb itself is a hard task but a great workout,” he says. “These events are extremely important for research. The more money we raise each year means the more people the association can help.”
Danielle has completed the Fight For Air Climb in all three Cleveland locations. “Key Tower is the most difficult,” she says, adding that she enjoyed the view from the top of Terminal Tower and “Progressive field is nice because it is outside and you also get to go down steps which allows you to catch your breath for a minute.” This year Danielle is hoping her team can finish in 15 minutes. Each year, she practices and trains but she laughs and says it’s never enough. “It’s just about the cause,” she adds, and to others thinking about joining the event, she advises, “Just do it. Helping in all the research is something to be proud of.”
For tons of info about how to register, how to form a team, where to park, fundraising tips, event-day details and more, visit Scroll down to Current Initiatives and Updates. Then click Do Good Feel Good, and then click Find Your Climb. At the American Lung Association website ( you’ll also find tools, tips and support to help smokers end their addiction to tobacco, including group clinics; personalized plan with quizzes, activities, videos and more; info for helping teens avoid vaping or to end their addiction (and how to talk to your teens about avoiding smoking); plus much more.
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