PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Hundreds of people gathered at the Omni Hotel in Providence on Saturday for the 11th Annual Fight For Air Climb.
The event raises money for research into lung diseases like COPD, asthma and lung cancer by pushing participants to climb dozens of flights of stairs.
One of the participants was Brian Pelletier, who just a few years ago, could barely walk without getting winded.
“I suffer from a disease called alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency,” he said. “Everybody says well they gotta wait for their wife to get ready, my wife had to wait for me to get ready just for the fact that just tying my shoes I’d get exerted.”
But now, he’s able to climb dozens of flights of stairs, thanks to an organ donation and a double-lung transplant.
“This is our second year doing it,” he added. “We climb in honor of my donor Joe.”
The whole ordeal inspired his daughter Amber to get a job with the American Lung Association.
“When my dad was diagnosed we had a lot of nonprofits come into our family and really help educate us and help us find resources,” she said. “It’s so nice to be somewhere where it’s something I’m personally attached to if you will.”
The Pelletiers joined hundreds of other people climbing 44 flights of stairs.
Several local firefighters participated, decked out in all 70 pounds of their gear.
“It’s tough, it’s tough, you can break out on the 11th floor if you want, but it’s a heartfelt thing when you get to the 22nd floor,” said Tiverton firefighter Daniel Murphy.
“It really does affect your lungs!” added Amber. “As you’re going up you get to the top and it is a little difficult to breathe, but I think for me knowing where my dad’s been and then knowing about the people that I work with, I just try to remember how lucky I am to be able to do it.”
“I’m probably one of the slowest ones here,” Brian said. “But I do it and I do it because I can and to help support the American Lung Association.”
Today’s event raised $200,000 for the American Lung Association.