'It isn't just like a 5K': It's 31 flights of stairs up Oakbrook Terrace Tower for charity

  • Dan Roelofs of Villa Park reaches the 31st and final flight of stairs during the American Lung Association Fight for Air Climb at the Oakbrook Terrace Tower Saturday. He was participating with the Elmhurst Park District Courts Plus team.

      Dan Roelofs of Villa Park reaches the 31st and final flight of stairs during the American Lung Association Fight for Air Climb at the Oakbrook Terrace Tower Saturday. He was participating with the Elmhurst Park District Courts Plus team. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

  • Marija Triukaite of Naperville ascends 31 flights of stairs during the American Lung Association Fight for Air Climb at the Oakbrook Terrace Tower Saturday.

      Marija Triukaite of Naperville ascends 31 flights of stairs during the American Lung Association Fight for Air Climb at the Oakbrook Terrace Tower Saturday. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

  • Pete Villicana of Aurora, left, and Janis Dennis of Tinley Park, second from left, are greeted at the top of 31 flights of stairs during the American Lung Association Fight for Air Climb at the Oakbrook Terrace Tower Saturday.

      Pete Villicana of Aurora, left, and Janis Dennis of Tinley Park, second from left, are greeted at the top of 31 flights of stairs during the American Lung Association Fight for Air Climb at the Oakbrook Terrace Tower Saturday. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

  • "Human Highlighter" Jeremy Wilson of Morton Grove takes a drink after climbing 31 flights of stairs during the American Lung Association Fight for Air Climb at the Oakbrook Terrace Tower Saturday.  Wilson has worn this outfit four straight years in an effort to highlight the fight against lung disease.

      "Human Highlighter" Jeremy Wilson of Morton Grove takes a drink after climbing 31 flights of stairs during the American Lung Association Fight for Air Climb at the Oakbrook Terrace Tower Saturday.  Wilson has worn this outfit four straight years in an effort to highlight the fight against lung disease. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 2/8/2020 5:05 PM

Dan Roelofs of Villa Park, whose grandfather and uncle both died of lung cancer, was one of 700 participants at the American Lung Association's 29th annual Fight for Air Climb at Oakbrook Terrace Tower Saturday.

He was there with a team from the Elmhurst Park District's Courts Plus, and was the first of his group to reach the top of 31 flights of stairs.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"It's just a great cause," Roelofs said. "It's a fun, easy event that brings people together."

Though he feels he is in good shape, Roelofs said he had to pace himself on the way up. He didn't want to start too fast and tire by the end, and he didn't want to go too slow and have leftover energy.

"It isn't just like a 5K that you normally do. This is different," Roelofs said. 'I can't tell you the last time I went up 31 flights of stairs."

Kristen Young, executive director of the American Lung Association in Greater Chicago, said participants climb 680 steps while ascending the stairs and can do so up to three times.

She said people are encouraged to walk up the stairs rather than run during the timed event, and that it takes an average of 12 minutes to reach the top.

Participants were greeted by cheering volunteers who rang cowbells and offered water, then they returned to the ground floor via the elevator.

Young said the event benefits research, education and advocacy related to all forms of lung disease.

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