Reminder Assistant Editor
SPRINGFIELD -- Fifteen dedicated teams of climbers will race up 48 flights of stairs next month to raise funds for those who have trouble walking up one.
The American Lung Association of New England will be hosting the first ever Climb Springfield event at Monarch Place on March 14. Climbers will race up 24 stories in hopes of becoming the fastest team and winning an award, and the funds they collect for the challenge will benefit the American Lung Association.
We had other stair climbs in Worcester, Boston and Hartford, and we ve seen lots of people from Western Massachusetts come to those events, so I think we ll have just as much success in Springfield, Bianca Walker, development manager for the American Lung Association (ALA), said. Having 15 teams is phenomenal for a first time event.
Walker added that even though this is the inaugural event for Springfield, she s hoping to raise $25,000 for the ALA. Each climber is required to raise a minimum of $65.
One of the teams participating this year is the Meddowe Vintage Base Ball Club, based in Longmeadow. With 10 team members, the ball club is guaranteed to raise at least $650, but team captain Mark Hurwitz is aiming for between $700 and $1,000.
Hurwitz has been on the ALA s advisory board for several years and said he liked what the organization was doing but noticed they were always doing the same three events. When the opportunity to take part in a stair climb came up, he immediately thought of entering the ball club as a team.
We heard firefighters do the climb in their full gear, so I thought it would be fun for us to do it in our [vintage base ball] uniforms, Hurwitz told Reminder Publications.
Next year, Hurwitz wants to challenge other vintage base ball teams to the climb.
The other teams competing in this first stair climb include the HNE Climbers, the Dennis Group Average Joes, West Springfield Fire, Stair Master Flash, Mighty, Forward Motion, Team Juliette, Westfield Fire, Happy Feet, Angels Wings, Chicopee Fire, Holyoke Fire, Lungz n Legz and Up With Chiropractic.
Hurwitz said there are different ways to sponsor each team, either by giving so much per floor or per step or through a general donation.
It s all about being creative to raise money, especially in this economy, Hurwitz said.
Walker said the ALA has had some issues gaining sponsorship support from businesses due to the economy but she s optimistic about the outcome of this first time event.
We re already looking forward to next year, she said.
She believes that the stair climb fundraiser will grow to become a success in Springfield because it s something different.
It s unique, Walker said. It s not your typical walk. It will attract all types of people -- some who will climb for their relatives who may have lung issues, some just for the challenge.
The programs [the ALA sponsor] really do make a difference, Hurwitz added.
Donations can be made all the way up until the start of the event at 10 a.m. on March 14. Those interested can also donate beforehand via the ALA s Web site or through the mail to the ALA s Springfield office at 393 Maple St. Teams can be specified on the memo lines of checks.
For more information, visit www.lungne.org.
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