My Fight for Air and Healthy Lungs

Jonathan Mandas

February 8, 2018

I have suffered from asthma since I was a child, so back in 2006 when I was contemplating which organization I wanted to volunteer with, the American Lung Association jumped out as the perfect match.  I felt I could connect with this non-profit as I understand what it’s like to fight for air and wanted to do more to help people reap the benefits of healthy lungs and healthy air.

In the year that I started volunteering, later to be asked to serve as a board member of the Regional Leadership Council, Cincinnati took the lead from several other stair climb events which were popping up across the country and organized its first. This fundraiser, originally dubbed “Climb the Carew Tower” after the iconic downtown building in which it takes place, and now called the “Fight for Air Climb”, has become one of the signature events of the American Lung Association and it’s great to have been involved from the start.  For me, the event is not only about raising money but also about raising awareness of lung diseases such as lung cancer, COPD or asthma. This year will be our 13th event (to be held on Sunday, February 11) and I’m really looking forward to seeing familiar faces and welcoming new participants ready to take on the challenge of climbing Cincinnati’s second tallest building, Carew Tower.  We anticipate the event will attract around 500 climbers who will tackle 45 flights of stairs and 804 steps in total – a real test of physical strength, stamina and lung power!  Seriously fit people (and I mean seriously fit!) turn up for the vertical mile climb and a competitive climb and then, many others come along to support family and friends affected by lung disease and do their best to make it to the top!  We are also fortunate to have multiple firefighting departments participate who do the climb in full gear- a real impressive feat to witness!  No matter what their motivation is, everyone has a great day and has fun along the way.

It’s been cool to have been part of this event right from the start and to see how it has grown, improved, built community relationships, and continue to give back.  I got into volunteering after being nominated to take part in the United Way Volunteer Leadership Development Program which taught me so many skills around leadership, team building, community building, how to be a board member and much, much more. It’s been so fulfilling to be able to put these skills to good use with the climb fundraiser and other advisory and petition work that I’ve been involved in with the American Lung Association.  As I’m the only one who has been involved in the climb from the start, I can share my experience of what has worked and add value when it comes to logistical arrangements.  We now have an event which runs smoothly and efficiently to provide an enjoyable experience for everyone.  It’s been very rewarding, and I love the challenge of being able to achieve great things for our community with limited resources.

If you want to see for yourself what all the excitement is about, then why not come down and register as a WALK-IN on Sunday! Alternatively, you can make donations to one of our teams.  Thanks for your support.

Jonathan Mandas, LUTCF®, is a Financial Planner based in Skylight’s Cincinnati office.