Thousands of volunteers climb thousands of steps at Fight for Air Climb

CHICAGO — At the Presidential Towers in downtown Chicago, altitude met attitude Sunday as more than 2,000 people climbed all four towers during the American Lung Association's "Fight for Air Climb." In all it's around 2,340 steps, according to the ALA's Kristen Young.

"We always say if you can’t breathe then nothing else matters, so whether you have lung disease, asthma, lung cancer, care about indoor or outdoor air quality, we’re covering a whole spectrum," Young said.

Climbers raised over $500,000 this year alone, with contributions from local volunteers and organizations, including a team from WGN.

"I do it for my grandma," volunteer Nick Oyenik explains. "She had lung cancer it went to her brain and she lost that battle... so my sister and i climb every year."

Ted Johnson said he was diagnosed with acute COPD just a few years ago.

"They told me at that time that I would ever be able to live a normal life again... I would never go back to work, do my normal routine," Johnson said. "I basically — in a very nice way — told them what they could do with that diagnosis."

It’s with that attitude of proving he can do it that Johnson takes on the altitude, as others living with the disease do, too.

"I want people to know that just because you have COPD... you can live your life you would normally live it, within bounds," Johnson said.