What's it Like to Climb 70 Flights of Stairs? Blues Employees Do it to Support the American Lung Association

Shannon McCarthy

| 4 min read

Four teams of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan employees raised nearly $11,000 for the American Lung Association as they joined other teams from the Detroit area for the annual Fight for Air Climb in Detroit. Successful teams at the event climbed 1,035 steps to the top floor of the Renaissance Center, Michigan’s tallest building. In addition to devoting months to training, the four BCBSM-affiliated teams raised a grand total of $10,994 for the American Lung Association. The funds will support research into the causes, prevention and cure of lung diseases such as asthma, lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. So how did the teams do it? Below are testimonials from employees who participated in the event.

Kristie Stocker (Team Captain for Climbatize)

“I trained with my team co-captain, Autumn Molnar. We would climb the 22 flights to the top of the (BCBSM) Detroit Tower two times in a row, five days a week. "When the going got tough on climb day, I remembered my Aunt Pat who died of lung-related complications, my uncle Jim who's currently fighting lung cancer, and my best friend Brandy who suffers from asthma. I also remembered everyone who donated to support me and it pushed me to the top. "Our team’s excitement and enthusiasm earned us “Summit Club” status for the second year in a row as well as the coveted Most Spirited Team award. I'm so proud to be co-captain of such a fun and energetic team and I'm ready for 2013.”

Autumn Molnar (Team Captain for Climbatize)

“During training we had fundraising competitions, "meet-n-greets" and sent our teammates emails with tips on how to raise money. Our team grew from last year up to 23 members, and I’m proud to say that we raised over $7,000 for the American Lung Association. "The event is such an exciting and positive experience with all the volunteers, sponsors and climbers gathered in one area and cheering for each other. "And as unexciting as the stairwell is, it draws big eyes from people when you tell them you climbed the stairs to the top of the largest building in Michigan.”
The author attached a sticker to honor her late uncle.

Shannon McCarthy (Climbatize Team Member)

“This was my second year participating in the Fight for Air Climb. Before last year I never imagined doing something like this. But that changed after seeing my uncle, William Bock, lose his battle with lung cancer in 2010. "When my coworkers Kristie Stocker and Autumn Molnar announced that our team, Climbatize, was going to do the climb again this year, I knew I had to sign up. For two months I trained by going to the gym three days a week, and on my lunch break I would climb the 22 flights to the top of the Tower. "As I climbed the stairs to the 70th floor there were definitely times that I struggled. But I would think about my uncle and what he went through and I was determined not to give up. And when I did make it to the top, it was the best feeling in the world. I’m already looking forward to next year."

Antonio Avant (Team Captain for TeamBlue)

“This was TeamBlue’s first time participating in the Fight for Air Climb. Together we raised $390 for the American Lung Association. "Karen, Harlan and I would meet every Tuesday and Thursday evening in stairwell A of the Tower and climb up to the 22nd floor. We would climb the 22 flights three times to simulate the 70 floors at the Renaissance Center. We did our best to keep each other motivated, even on those days when we were ready to quit. "On the day of the event, we could feel the energy in the air as we waited for our turn to climb the stairs. When we were done we were relieved that we made it to the top but also disappointed that the experience was over.”
The members of the TeamBlue and Stairway 2 Health teams.

Peter DiLella (Team Captain for Stairway 2 Health)

“During training, our team had a competition where everyone would keep track of how many flights of stairs they climbed by posting their daily results on a dry-erase board in our department. The competition motivated us to take the stairs to meetings rather than take the elevator. "I’m proud of what we accomplished and the fact that we raised $1,400 for a great cause. The event was fantastic and everyone enjoyed participating.”

Michelle Simon (BCBSM Ren Cen Climbers Team Member)

Michelle Simon, left, and teammate Nicole Wright.
“I decided to do this for my dad, who smokes, and my husband’s grandma, who has emphysema and other issues with breathing. She unfortunately passed away just two weeks ago, and wasn’t able know that I finished the climb. "I trained twice a week with my teammate and coworker, Nicole Wright. We worked hard to build up our endurance, especially since this was our first time doing this and we weren’t sure what to expect. "The overall experience was absolutely amazing. I couldn’t believe at how fast the other climbers were going up. I’m already looking forward to beating my time next year.”
MI Blues Perspectives is sponsored by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, a nonprofit, independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association