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Battling lung cancer takes climbing 55 floors

Hundreds will climb 55 floors at downtown Miami’s Wachovia Financial Center as part of the annual Fight for Air Climb Miami to benefit the American Lung Association in Florida.

By RODOLFO ROMAN
Special to The Miami Herald
When rescuing people from buildings, Sunrise firefighter Rena Ferrara is no stranger to climbing stairs.

But on April 17, stair climbing will have an emotional meaning for Ferrara: She will climb 55 floors at downtown Miami’s Wachovia Financial Center in memory of her father, Charles Ferrara, who died of lung cancer in 2007.

“This is an inspiration every year. It is emotional,” said Ferrara, who will be attending her fourth event. “I know what a person that has lung disease goes through.”

She will join more than 600 people at 200 S. Biscayne Blvd. for the sixth Annual Fight for Air Climb Miami to benefit the American Lung Association in Florida.

Event registration starts at 8 a.m. with the stair climbing beginning at 8:30 a.m. Parking is free for the climb in the Financial Center’s parking garage. Participants will climb in 15 second intervals to avoid congestion in the stairwell. The climb of 1,210 steps is open to people 10 years and older. There is a $25 registration fee and participating teams are suggested to raise at least $100. To register visit www.fightforairclimbmiami.org.

All proceeds will support research, education and advocacy program that help the American Lung Association save lives by preventing lung disease, wrote Julie Selvaggi, Development Manager, in an e-mail.

The American Lung Association was founded in 1916. According to the organization, lung cancer is the leading cancer killer among men and women in the country. It is estimated that there will be over 215,000 new cases of lung cancer this year.

“Not only is the climb a fun community event, with generous support from the local fire department, but all of the money that is raised goes back into community programs that help us to fight for healthy lungs around South Florida,” she wrote.

Selvaggi also said the goal is to raise $130,000 through corporate sponsorships, registration fees and fundraising.

Also at the event, climbers will compete for prizes and incentives for fast times and fundraising efforts. There will also be a post-party after the climb at the Miami City Club on the 55th floor, where participants will enjoy food from local vendors and live music by The Fire Brigade. Hundreds of firefighters from across the state will also show their support by climbing in full firefighting gear.

As for Ferrara, who lives in Cooper City, she is looking to raise about $2,000 with the help of friends, firefighters and family. Ferrara said she is up for the meaningful challenge.

`I am always training, so I will be used to it,” she said.

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