Castro Valley Woman To Climb 52 Story Building For Clean Air

Keri Johnson will ascend 1,197 steps in San Francisco's Bank of America building to help the American Lung Association raise money, and combat air pollution and smoking.


Keri Johnson will probably be huffing and puffing Saturday morning.

That's when the Castro Valley woman will join 1,400 other Bay Area residents in The Fight For Air Climb.

Together they will walk up the stairs to the top of the 52-story Bank of America building in San Francisco.

The event is designed to raise money and consciousness about clean air and other healthy habits, notably quitting or avoiding smoking.

“Everyone knows someone who has been affected by asthma, emphysema, lung cancer or tobacco addiction," said Jane Warner, CEO of the American Lung Association in California. 

That is especially true for Johnson. She was recruited to the climb by her high school friend, Cheri Eplin, now a fifth grade teacher in Dublin.

In 2010, Elplin's mother, Ella Sue, died of lung cancer. That same year, to honor her mom, Cheri Eplin took part in the Fight for Air Climb.

In 2011, Eplin recruited Johnson as a cheerleader and supporter.

Last year Johnson made her first climb, ascending 1,197 steps in just over 19 minutes.

It was a sobering finish.

"I finished at the bottom third of my age bracket," she told Patch.

Nevertheless her participation helped called attention to some facts.

The Association bills lung disease as the third leading cause of death in the United States. It is the leading cause of cancer death in both men and women, taking more lives than breast, colorectal, prostate and pancreatic cancers combined.

The group says lung disease is particularly prevalent in California. Ninety percent of Californians live in areas with unhealthy air, contributing to breathing problems for the nearly five million people afflicted with asthma, including nearly one million children.

Although the Bay Area is relatively protected against air pollution by offshore winds, there are stretches, such as the Interstate 880 corridor, where geography, traffic and industry create less healthy conditions.

Meanwhile, Johnson is focused on Saturday, when she hopes to shave a bit off her time.

"I just zone out," she said of her climbing style. "It helps to have music. I just look at my feet and keep going."

To learn more about the Associaition or join the event click on this link.

What do you think about local air quality? What steps have you taken in your own life?


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