JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Hundreds climbed to the 34th floor of the tallest building in Jacksonville during Saturday morning's 15th annual 'Fight for Air Climb’.
The event raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for the American Lung Association.
Climbing 670 stairs is not a new challenge for Jack Avery, a retiree living with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
"This is my 15th year climbing. After my second year of climbing, I was diagnosed with COPD," Avery said.
The disease brought Avery's lung capacity down to 60%, but he didn't stop climbing.
"And two years later they tested me and I had 80% lung capacity. So, COPD can be conquered," Avery said.
Now, Avery climbs for those who can't. Just like the over 40 firefighters who climbed the stairs in full gear.
"You know I'm climbing for two different people in my life that have passed away. But really in our industry, lung disease and lung cancer is really just rampant," Jeremy LaTraverse, a Kingsland firefighter, said.
There were 670 steps to climb in the Bank of America Tower. Over 360 people participated, in the event, going up the stairwell every 15 seconds.
"This event allows us to come together as a community, and just bond with each other but also raise valuable funds for awareness and advocacy that helps defeat lung disease around the country," Chris Gonzalez, chair of the local leadership board for the 'Fight for Air Climb'.
More than $130,000 was raised, a new event record. The funds will go towards supporting people with lung disease.
The first person to finish did so in 3 minutes and 33 seconds. Avery made it to the top without stopping, a personal accomplishment.
"I normally have to stop and catch my breath...I felt great," Avery said.
More information on this and future climbs can be found here.