KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- More than 230,000 American's were diagnosed with lung cancer last year. The disease kills more than any other cancer.
On Sunday, 630 people climbed the tallest building in Kansas City for the American Lung Association in Kansas & Greater Kansas City's Fight For Air Climb at One Kansas City Place.
The climb is so important to so many. Each name on the wall at the entrance to the stairwell is an anthem. Climbers are often fighting for friends and family who can't.
"I'm climbing for my spouse's mother, her grandmother and aunt who all died form lung cancer," Julie Annett said.
Bill Paterson is climbing for his parents and aunts and a brother-in-law. Kimiko Gilmore, for her grandfather.
"If this is going to make a difference for him in any way, or someone coming behind him, that's what I'm doing it for. My grandfather is my heart, my life and I hate to see him suffer like that."
The statistics tell the story of millions of Americans who struggle everyday to breathe. Tens of thousands will die trying.
Teams of fire fighters know how it feels to have your air compromised. David Whitley works with the Concordia Fire Department.
“I try to push myself so I have to fight for air. I feel the difficulty breathing. So I push myself to the limit.”
They strap on about 75 pounds of gear while they traverse 42 flights with dozens of reasons to climb written on their air tanks...names of those who have died from or are currently fighting lung disease.
Typically, it strikes people over the age of 60. But not always.
Becky Berry's big brother was a 41-years-old, non-smoker. A personal trainer. He died two years ago, only three months after his lung cancer diagnosis.
“We found out Matt was diagnosed, so we do it every year in St. Louis and in Kansas City.” Berry climbs alongside her father, with her brother's name on her back.
The Ireland family climbs for baby Coy. He was born with a heart and lung disorder and died when he was only one day old. The multi-generational team of 15 wants his legacy to live.
Money raised educates others about lung disease, provides for patients in need, and pays to research medicines and cures that may make a difference to those whose struggle is still before them.
FOX4's Dhominique Ricks and Lauren Halifax spent the day at the "Fight for Air Climb", thanking sponsors and encouraging climbers to push for all 42 floors.
The event raised more than $175,000 to fund lung cancer research and critical local programs to help residents who suffer from lung disease.