SPRINGFIELD – The American Lung Association returns to Springfield for its sixth anniversary Fight for Air Climb on Nov. 9.
Climbers, including teams of firefighters, will tackle the 24 floors of 1 Monarch Place all to raise money in the fight against lung disease. Lt. Michael Pandora of the Granby Fire Department, 54, will climb with the department for the third time in Springfield. Pandora, who suffers from asthma, lost more than 100 pounds following his first Fight for Air Climb with the American Lung Association.
Pandora registered for last year’s Fight for Air Climb, which took place in March, with a group of 12 others.
“Half of why I signed up initially was because I have asthma and the other half was because I really wanted to take the Firefighter Challenge and climb in full gear,” Pandora said of his first stairclimb.
He admitted that first year was tough but he pushed himself and made it to the top in 36 minutes.
Pandora called his inaugural Fight for Air Climb “eye-opening.” It was after that initial stairclimb that Pandora decided to get in better shape. He promptly started a diet and exercise regimen which included walking and eventually running. By the time he climbed for the second time just eight months later in November, Pandora was more than 100 pounds lighter. This time he reached the top of 1 Monarch Place in just six and a half minutes.
This past month, Pandora ran his first ever marathon, the ING Hartford Marathon in Hartford, Conn., on Oct. 12.
Pandora, diagnosed with asthma more than 20 years ago, uses medications prescribed by his doctor to control his symptoms. He said that after losing the weight, “he can certainly breathe better.”
Pandora, a lifelong nonsmoker, is unsure why he is living with the disease, but does feel that his exposure to secondhand smoke as an adolescent played a role. Both of Pandora’s parents smoked when he was growing up. He lost his mother to lung cancer just last year and keeps her in his thoughts as he prepares and climbs with the American Lung Association.
“Michael’s story is such an inspiration,” Jeff Seyler, president and CEO of the American Lung Association of the Northeast, said.
“Our stairclimb events help promote a healthy and active lifestyle and we encourage everyone to get involved – the whole family. At the American Lung Association our motto is, we climb because we can; we climb for those who struggle to breathe because of lung disease and air pollution. The money raised will bring us closer to our goal of a world free of lung disease,” he added.
Pandora will be climbing 1 Monarch Place with the Granby Fire Department, which has 22 team members registered to climb on event day. To date, the team has raised over $2,000 for the 2013 Springfield Fight for Air Climb.
All proceeds from the Springfield Fight for Air Climb will directly fund lung disease research, advocacy and education; including smoking cessation programs, COPD/asthma management, and advocacy for stronger clean air standards.
The Springfield Fight for Air Climb is sponsored by Monarch Place, Kelser Corporation, Health New England, Bertera Subaru, ESPN 1450 AM, WWLP 22 News, 94.7 WMAS and Poland Spring. The event is also made possible with the support of national Corporate Team partner, Kindred Healthcare.
To learn more about the Fight for Air Climb in Springfield, or to make a donation that could save lives, visit ClimbofYourLife.org