Nearly 600 climb in Fight for Air Climb

Many climbed to raise awareness of lung cancer

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Almost 600 people climbed 42 flights, or 838 stairs, for the American Lung Association's 5th annual Fight for Air Climb at the Bank of America tower downtown this Saturday.

Some people, like Brenda Dirkse, were climbing in memory of loved ones they have lost to lung disease.

"I'm climbing today because my dad died of pulmonary fibroris," said Dirkse. "I have an uncle that is still suffering from pulmonary fibrosis and I have two uncles that died of lung cancer."

Dirkse's climb is an emotional one, filled with memories of her father's disease.

"My dad was sick for a long time, and you know he suffered in the last years by not being able to breathe and having a lot of physical ailments based on his lungs giving out," said Dirkse.

Even Channel 4's Vic Micolucci and anchor Jennifer Waugh took the challenge to raise awareness of lung cancer, the third-leading cause of death in the United States.

Nicola Barnack of the American Lung Associate confirms the Jacksonville climb will benefit Jacksonville programs.

"All the money raised here today will stay in Northeast Florida and fund all the local programs for the northeast florida american lung association," said Barnack.

Money, people like Dirkse hopes, will save families in the future from the heart break she's experienced.

"Because whether it's lung disease from cancer or pulmonary fibrosis, or children with asthma," said Dirkse. "Everyone needs to be able to breathe, and not have to fight for their air."

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