Editor’s note: On Saturday, North State residents Laura Gore, Joy Garcia, Abby Webb and Melissa Buciak joined thousands of others around the country in this year’s ‘Fight For Air Climb’ to raise money for the American Lung Association. Their goal: to climb all 1,197 stairs to the top of the Bank of America Building in San Francisco. They are gathering donations and climbing to help fight asthma, lung cancer, COPD and dozens of other lung diseases. Anewscafe.com caught the trio just before they left for San Francisco.
Q: Well, you four. Who wants to go first and tell me why you’re climbing 1,197 stairs?
Joy: Because I can’t breathe! I have severe asthma that tends to limit not only where I exercise but how much I exercise. So for me, I can’t think of a better organization to raise money for.
Abby: I’ve been asking myself the same question. In all seriousness, the reason I’m climbing is because Laura asked me to join her team. I thought it sounded like a good challenge and the cause is important. I think it sounds like crazy fun. I’m always looking for something new to try. Plus, how many people can say they have climbed the stairs to the top of a skyscraper?
Laura: Every year I like to do some type of event for charity. This year I picked the American Lung Association because I really believe in the work they do. I have asthma and I lost my grandfather to lung cancer. Both of these diseases are something the American Lung Association is working hard to prevent and find effective treatment for, among other diseases.
Melissa: I am dedicating this climb to my Grandpa Frank Stahlak, who died of lung cancer in 1977. I barely knew him, and wished I had more time with. His tumor was in the middle lobe and was deemed inoperable so he died shortly after. Like a lot of men of his generation, he was issued WWII cigarettes, which is what eventually did him in. http://action.lungusa.org/goto/melissaannbuciak
I think I got my community service itch from my Grandpa. Shortly after he passed away, they dedicated a park to him for years of community service – Stahlak Park. http://www.worthparkdistrict.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=40
Q: And the idea behind stairs rather than, say, a walk-a-thon?
Joy: Well, I think we have all participated in a lot of different “thons.” Why not stairs?
Abby: It’s unconventional and it gets people’s attention. One of the purposes of this event is to raise awareness about the American Lung Association and having a different event gets people to pay attention. I love taking on a good challenge and getter an even better life experience in return.
Laura: Like Abby and Joy have said, I have participated in many walk-a-thons. I know I can do it. Part of the fun in this is telling people that you are going to walk 1,197 stairs. It instantly grabs their attention and makes it easy to talk about the reason we are climbing.
Q: Where have you trained? I’m trying to visualize which building in Redding might have the most stairs, and I’m drawing a blank … unless maybe you consider the jail … maybe not.
Melissa: That’s funny because, indeed, the tallest building is our jail. Shasta College stairs work well for training — running the bleachers. Plus running up the “big hill – to Strafford” off the north side of the River Trail. I normally work out 5-6 weeks (mountain biking, running and strength traning) so I think (or hope!) my base fitness level will be good to get to the top but I ran a few hills to help with leg strength, aka the burn!
Abby: I’ve just continued to do the things I enjoy doing and hope for the best — mostly (I’ve been) biking. I made an attempt to climb up and down the big hills in my backyard in Igo. Also, about a month ago I was staying in a 10-story hotel in Southern California and I got up one morning to walk up and down the stairs of all ten stories ten times. I survived that. So, I’m hoping I’ll be okay during the climb.
Joy: Yeah, me too! This might be harder than I anticipated. Good thing there will be a rest station every 7 floors, plus I will have my trusty inhaler along for the climb.
Laura: I have been climbing the stair climber at the gym that is a lot like walking up the “going down” escalator. I also have been riding my bike and hiking when the weather lets me.
Q: How many people are expected to be there?
Joy: I’m not sure but I am fairly positive that there will be more people willing to climb 1,197 stairs than you would think.
Abby: A lot?
Laura: I don’t know the exact number of climbers but I do know that over 140 teams signed up.
Q: Won’t the stairwells get kind of crowded?
Joy: They send us up the stairs at different times. The really fast people who make it a race go first … so that means I will be starting sometime towards the afternoon.
Abby: Laura has informed me that the climbers start in waves and the “racers” are going first. I’ll be at the end of the group, so I won’t be in anyone else’s way.
Laura: Like Joy said, we will be climbing in waves. Our wave time is at 11:30 on March 26th, so please be sure and think of us climbing those stairs!
Q: What’s the most difficult part about climbing stairs?
Joy: For me it is always coming back down … but luckily they are letting us take the elevator. I think the first word that should be used is “burn.” While we are there it is going to burn, but the next day … or week, it will hurt.
Abby: Usually the physical things I enjoy doing are outside where I can see nature. Stairwells don’t tend to be that beautiful so I think that will be mentally challenging. Physically, when I climbed all those stairs in that hotel I felt fine doing it, but my quads were quite a bit wobbly the next day.
Laura: I am with Abby, I think it is going to be more mentally challenging than physically so. Unless there are windows in the stairwell, then it will be very cool to see how far we have climbed.
Melissa: In a word, where does it hurt? Quads, hamstrings and glutes (aka your bootie).
Q: You have done other slightly unorthodox means of exercise, haven’t you?
Joy: Yes, I think all of us have participated in numerous unorthodox means of exercise. It keeps things interesting.
Abby: Training in the stairwell of a hotel was probably the strangest exercise I have ever done. I kept wondering what someone would think if they opened the door and saw me. I’ve run one marathon (which most people, including me, think is unnatural) and I’ve done a few century bike rides. I also consider weed-eating the hillside next to my house unorthodox exercise.
Laura: Yes we have. This is probably the most unorthodox, but I have also ridden my bike 200 miles in two days from Seattle to Portland, ridden my bike across Vietnam with my Dad, and have entered the lottery to climb Mt. Whitney this summer.
Q: Kidding aside, this is serious stuff, and it’s a serious fundraiser.
Joy: The climbing of the stairs may get the majority of the attention but it really is about the fund raising for an organization that may someday help me run without my inhaler!
Abby: Yes, in fact, I think it is important for people to know what the American Lung Association does so that they can know why supporting this cause matters. The Lung Association advocates and works for healthier, cleaner air through research, education, and advocacy. They support research to improve lung health and cure lung diseases such as lung cancer, asthma, COPD (emphysema), and influenza. They support smoking cessation by helping people quit, protecting others from secondhand smoke, and preventing young people from starting to smoke.
Abby: Absolutely. The donation link for our team is valid 30 days after the event, at http://action.lungusa.org/goto/melissaannbuciak. And, of course, people are always able to submit donations to the American Lung Association directly at http://www.lungusa.org/donate/.
Donations help the American Lung Association provide community-based education programs, fight for cleaner air standards and fund life-saving research.
The American Lung Association is one of the most recognized 501c(3) organizations for proper management of the resources entrusted them since they began in 1904. As a charitable non-profit organization all gifts are fully tax deductible, and you will receive a notice in the mail thanking you for your gift, which you can then use for your tax filing next year.
You may also make checks payable to The American Lung Association (Shasta Steppers) and mail them to our local office. You can also donate online by clicking here.
If you’d like to make a donation by check, with a note of who the donation supports, send your contribution to:
American Lung Association in California
Attn: Fight For Air Climb
424 Pendleton Way
Oakland, CA 94621
Independent online journalist Doni Greenberg founded what’s now known as anewscafe.com in 2007 with her son, Joe Domke of the Czech Republic. Prior to 2007 Greenberg was an award-winning newspaper opinion columnist, feature and food writer recognized by the Associated Press, the California Newspaper Publishers Association and E.W. Scripps. She lives in Redding, CA.
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