COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Survivors and supporters stepped up to fight lung disease in a big way Saturday.
Close to 600 people took part in the 10th annual Fight for Air Climb at Rhodes Tower. Teams raised money and participants climbed the tower’s 40 floors, each logging 880 steps for the American Lung Association.
Team “Taura Strong” raised a record high for individual teams at the event. About 20 people collected more than $10,000 in honor of Taura Auddino.
“The support from my community and my family and everybody in my life has been amazing,” Auddino said. “I can’t tell everyone enough how much I love them for everything they’ve done for me.”
Two years ago, doctors diagnosed the mother of five with stage four lung cancer. Auddino, who lived a healthy lifestyle and never smoked, was blindsided by the diagnosis and says it has changed her outlook on life.
“I want to spend every day with my family, surviving cancer, not dying of cancer,” she said. “I don’t know when my time is up. I spend every day being positive.”
Auddino’s positivity is contagious. Although she admitted to “looking better than I feel,” she was among the first participants to kick off the event and completed all 40 floors with characteristic enthusiasm.
“It was awesome. I made it. It was harder than I thought, but I got my breathing treatment upstairs so I’m good right now,” she said at the end of the climb.
Auddino’s daughter helped organize the group and echoed her mother’s amazement over the outpouring of support.
“We’re not alone. No one fights alone. We’re not alone, that’s for sure. Our community has made sure that we feel that,” Carley Auddino said.
More than 9,500 Ohioans are diagnosed with lung cancer every year. It’s something the Auddino family hopes will decline thanks to fundraising efforts like the Fight for Air Climb.
“It’s not going to help me right now. But it could help my children, it could help everyone else’s children and grandchildren and their grandchildren. So I’m hoping eventually there will be some kind of a cure or help for the people below me,” Taura Auddino said.
Preliminary fundraising totals appeared to be record-breaking as well. Organizers said by start time, the event had already collected more than $110,000. The money goes toward life-saving research and educational programs to help children manage asthma and help adults quit smoking.
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