ST. PETE — When it comes to protecting our lungs there is one group of men and women who are extra passionate. We’re talking about firefighters. And right now dozens of them are preparing for the American Lung Association’s biggest fundraiser.
From the boots to the pants and jacket to the helmet, St. Pete firefighter Jen Shedler’s uniform weighs about 30 pounds and she’ll be wearing all of it when she climbs close to 1,000 steps at Raymond James Stadium April 18.
“I’m so stoked to be climbing at our Super Bowl champion stadium, I’ve been asking all around hoping that Tom Brady is going to be at the finish line,” said Shedler.
Shedler has been practicing at the St. Petersburg Fire Rescue Training Tower. The Fight For Air Climb is the American Lung Association’s signature event, being held in cities across the country.
“And we do it to raise awareness and funds for lung disease and advocacy for lung disease and clean air for all,” said Lindsay Rosegger with the American Lung Association of Tampa. “A bulk of our fundraising dollars this year is going toward ending the pandemic.”
Shedler will be joined by hundreds of fellow climbers, including dozens from fire departments throughout Tampa Bay.
“Good fun, good camaraderie, I love being around all the different fire teams that are climbing,” said Shedler.
This cause is especially important for first responders like Shedler.
“I would say that we are definitely at more risk so having the money and research behind us to help is a wonderful thing, I will climb every year for it,” said Shedler.
The climb is typically held at the Bank of America building. Moving it to Raymond James Stadium adds an extra element.
“This climb is going to be a little bit more challenging this year because we’ll be climbing up and down and we’ll be going in an S shaped pattern across the 200 section at Raymond James,” said Shedler.
You may be surprised, she said the toughest part is actually going down.
“Your calves start screaming when you go down with all the gear on,” said Shedler.
If you want to join Shedler and participate in the Fight For Air Climb it’s not too late, go to Fightforairclimb.org/tampa for more information.