Woodbury local participates in the Fight for Air Climb every year to support lung health.
Michelle Bosquez has long been impacted by lung cancer as it rooted itself in the deepest parts of her life. “It’s like I’m surrounded by it. I was meant to take action—how could I not?” Bosquez says. With the losses of her uncle and colleague from lung cancer, she felt the overwhelming urge to take steps for change—and taking steps is literally what Bosquez did.
Bosquez, a Woodbury local and lung health advocate, is a five-year participant in the Fight for Air Climb, hosted by the American Lung Association (ALA). (The most recent event was held this past May.) She participates in the climb with her MGC on the Move team, which has climbed the stairs every year since 2018. Her climbing team, a company group from MGC Diagnostics, was created when it received a flyer for the Fight for Air Climb in the mail.
“I just thought of how great the partnership with the ALA would be with our company. Given that both of our companies are solely focused on lung health, we got great support from our company to make donations and take this on,” Bosquez says.
MGC Diagnostics develops and manufactures non-invasic diagnostic systems that can help to detect and manage heart and lung disease. “This is one reason why MGC Diagnostics and the [ALA] are such a good match. Over 600,000 Minnesotans are living with lung disease, so it’s a great feeling to contribute by climbing or fundraising and giving back to Minnesotans,” Bosquez says.
Bosquez has been with MGC diagnostics for 11 years, but she has always been involved in the health field. “I’ve always been into health, wellness and fitness, and I actually worked for the CEO at Health Fitness Corporation before starting at MGC Diagnostics,” she says.
With that, she has always been hyper-aware of lung health. Bosquez’s grandma had severe asthma, and her mother’s friend passed away from lung cancer, even though she was a non-smoker. Most recently, her brother-in-law was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer—he was also a non-smoker. Given the company she works for, tied in with her personal experiences, the Fight for Air Climb was a calling. “I was meant to climb for this cause, it was a match,” Bosquez says.
The Fight for Air Climb is put on by the ALA throughout the country. The goal is to challenge participants to promote healthy lungs and bring awareness to lung disease while also funding lung research. The event is open to everyone—all that is asked is to raise at least $100
in donations for lung research.
“When I’m at the event, I always take huge inspiration from the firefighters who also attend every year. They have all their gear on down to their oxygen tanks. It’s amazing and inspiring to see, especially to everyone participating in the climb,” Bosquez says. She is also inspired by the camaraderie among participants.
In past years, the event was held at U.S. Bank Stadium in a stairwell. Now, it is held in the bleachers at Allianz field, which gives climbers more space and fresh air. Bosquez notes how past years have been challenging with doing the climb indoors. Since COVID-19, it has moved outside, giving participants the freedom to move in a larger, breezy space.
“Everyone is so pumped up and jazzed by the climb,” Bosquez says. “It seems like everyone is climbing with intention, and they are inspired by someone or something. There are people that are climbing that have lost a parent, friend or loved one to lung cancer or some type of lung disease. Then you have all the fire departments from all around the state of Minnesota motivating us all.”
Bosquez notes how positive this event is—there are people cheering from the sidelines, as well as people there to help warm up and encourage climbers. Participants can choose any route in the stadium and climb anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour.
“This year, our team is in first place for Minnesota Climb Fundraising Teams at $6,330—that is in addition to the $5,000 that MGC gave as a sponsorship of the climb,” Bosquez says. “In the past, we typically raised less than $5,000 each year, but every year we aim to beat the following year, so next year we will try to fundraise closer to $7,000 in addition to our company sponsorship of the climb.”
Her personal goal beyond fundraising is to always climb the stairs longer and faster than the year prior. Bosquez notes that stair climbing is a lot more challenging and exhausting than people may think, but she encourages anyone thinking about climbing in the event to not hesitate to jump on the opportunity.
Lung cancer can affect anyone without warning. For Bosquez, she acknowledges the dent it can leave on anyone affected. Recognizing that the ALA has a lot of support groups and resources to help families and friends is the biggest piece of advice Bosquez can offer. She remarks that a lot of people just aren’t aware of these resources, but they can be life-changing, just like the climb.
The Cause and Action
Lung cancer affects the Minnesota community in many ways. Consider the following statistics:
619,000: Estimated number of people in Minnesota living with chronic lung disease
3,980: Estimated number of people in Minnesota that will be diagnosed with lung cancer in 2022
1,950: Estimated number of people in Minnesota that will pass away from lung cancer in 2022
$140,000+: How much the Fight for Air Climb has raised for the ALA in 2022
4,380: Steps taken at the Fight for Air Climb in 2022
American Lung Association
Facebook: American Lung Association in Minnesota