Vertical Race Raises Top Dollar for American Lung Association

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DES MOINES, Iowa-- Climbers tackled four of Des Moines' tallest buildings today. The Fight For Air Climb benefits the American Lung Association.

“It is you versus the stairs. You go at your own pace,” said Julia McCarville, Special Events Manager with the American Lung Association.

Twelve-hundred people signed for the vertical race. It includes part or all of the EMC building, the Hub Tower, Ruan Center and downtown Marriott for a total of 1801 stairs.

“It's the biggest climb we've ever had and we've raised the most money we've ever had,” said McCarville.

Raising money is just one of the goals for Tom Muselman. He had a double lung transplant in 2009.

“I was the 27th lung recipient at the University of Iowa. It happened on June 27th, 2009. I had my disease for 27 years before my transplant,” he said.

Now he climbs with Team 27 and it’s a family affair. The group is the biggest family and friends fundraising team in the entire country.

“We went through a lot, always afraid he might die. We're a very close-knit family and so to show people how important it is to support the American Lung Association to keep people like him alive, it's just a big focus for us,” explained wife, Becky.

Muselman and many of the other climbers have a close connection to the cause.

“I really believe that every breath is a gift and that's our motto of our team,” said Muselman.

This year's Fight For Air Climb in Des Moines raised $300,000 for research and education to prevent lung disease in Iowa. Similar events take place in 65 cities across the country.