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Stair climb at MU stadium raises funds for American Lung Association

Mar. 23, 2013 @ 11:16 PM

HUNTINGTON -- Christie Compton of South Charleston and her 13-year-old daughter, Elena, had a real, tangible reason to participate in Saturday's 2nd annual Fight For Air Climb, a fundraiser for the American Lung Association, at Marshall University's Joan C. Edwards Stadium.

Her daughter's friend, Lauren Swann, had an asthma attack which lead to a fatal heart attack Dec. 23.

"We're here to fight against lung disease and to support Lauren," Compton said Saturday morning.

Carla Smith, a Zanesville, Ohio, woman had a different reason for climbing some 1,100 steps inside the football stadium. "It's a real stress reliever, and it's for a good cause," she said. "I did one in Columbus last month and also did one in Detroit. That building had 70 floors. The one in Columbus had 40 floors. I've started a new sport. I plan to go to several more of these this year. When I do these, I can't think of too much else but breathing," she said.

"You do this, and you understand how people with lung disease feel," said event organizer Chaste Barclay. "We had about 70 people participating and had about 20 volunteers. We raised about $10,000. It's more than last year. It's growing. We did it at Henderson Center last year and decided to move it to a bigger venue. Marshall University has been great to us."

"You gain an appreciation for strong lungs when you do something like this," said Chad Schaeffer, executive director of the Edwards Comprehensive Health Center at Cabell Huntington Hospital. "You run out of breath pretty quickly. So many people are affected by lung diseases."

A group of nine runners from the health center raised more than $1,500 for the fundraiser.

One of the nine, Stephen Perrine, 12, a Huntington Middle School student, said he came out to raise money and help out.

"It was rough, and it was kind of hard," he said. "We did the one last year, too."

Cynthia Keely with the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, said the state funds the West Virginia Asthma Coalition.

"Eleven people a day die from asthma in the United States," she said. "Every year in West Virginia an average of 27 people die from asthma. It's the No. 1 chronic disease of children, and the No. 1 reason for absenteeism by school children.

"Asthma is a life-long disease," she said. "You don't outgrow it."

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