Volunteers scale Presidential Towers to help others breathe easier

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CHICAGO -- The cheering started early as the first climbers began the "Fight For Air Climb" at the Presidential Towers to benefit the American Lung Association in Greater Chicago around 7 a.m. Sunday.

Maureen MCDonald's Dad passed away from pulmonary fibrosis. She said now she climbs in his memory.

"Its definitely taken on a much deeper meaning since then," McDonald said.

2,000 climbers made the trek inside the Presidential Towers on West Madison- thats 4 towers with 180 total floors.

A retired Chicago Public School teacher with COPD, Ted Johnson climbed to raise money for the American Lung Association and to defy the disease he now battles.

"I'm really fighting back, I'm refusing to let the disease tell me what I can do and cant do," Johnson said. "Whether it took me an hour or 10 hours I was going to get to the top."

Many families and businesses formed teams, including dozens of Chicagoland firefighters who took part, gear and all.

"It's a point of pride, it is hot but thats something we deal with all the time," firefighter Norm Olsen said.

WGN's Marcus Leshock and Lourdes Duarte also climbed along with the WGN station team.

The American Lung Association is hoping that the climbers will raise more than $550,000.