TAMPA, Fla. — On May 2, hundreds of people will be climbing up and down the steps of Raymond James Stadium. However, there isn’t a game or concert. Instead, they will be climbing for a great cause.
Kristen Niemi is one of several Tampa Bay residents who took advantage of a practice climb at Raymond James Stadium to make sure they are ready to win when it comes to The Fight for Air Climb.
There are 1,377 steps and in every single one, Niemi is carrying someone in her heart, her grandfather Bernie.
“He would have given his shirt off the back for you and so I think he would really enjoy that I’m doing this for him in his honor and raising this money for people,” said Niemi.
The World War II veteran died of mesothelioma, something he contracted from breathing in asbestos while working on ships in Pearl Harbor.
“Whenever I try to do these events I wear this necklace, it’s his thumbprint with the names and dates on the back of it,” said Niemi.
This is Kristen’s 10th year participating in The Fight For Air Climb, raising more than $10,000 to help fight lung conditions like the one that killed Grandpa Bernie.
Her dedication goes beyond just the climb. She is an occupational safety professional, making sure people on job sites have the proper equipment to protect their lungs.
“It's something that I’m very passionate about, very rewarding,” said Niemi.
So you could say Kristen fits in right at home at Raymond James Stadium, just call her a champion for the American Lung Association.
For more information on how to sign up or donate to The Fight for Air Climb, go to climbtampa.org.
The event was originally scheduled to take place on April 2 but has been rescheduled to May 2 due to weather.