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Tech Takeover: Virtual Climbs Raise Awareness About Lung Disease
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GLENSIDE, Pa. (WLVT) - Walking, running and climbing events have been canceled, but you can still show virtual support for the causes you care about.

  • Tech Takeover takes a look at how one nonprofit is using digital strategies to raise awareness. Watch the full story in the video player below.

This is the first year Taylor Dunn, a senior at Arcadia University, is participating in the American Lung Association’s Fight for Air Climb. Dunn says she wanted to climb to support her mom, 54-year-old Tiffany Dunn.

''She was diagnosed with lung cancer in February of last year,'' said Dunn, ''it was really hard for our family.''

Arcadia University senior Taylor Dunn with her parents. (Courtesy: Taylor Dunn)

Dunn was planning to climb 50 flights of steps this past Saturday at the Three Logan Square building in Philadelphia. Now, she’s asked people to climb steps at-home or outdoors to help raise money for lung cancer research. With the help of Arcadia athletic trainer Danielle Duffy, the pair started a virtual climb on social media.

''Danielle and I thought this would be a good idea because of what’s going on with the coronavirus. It’s a lung-borne illness. We thought this would be a good way to help to raise awareness about people who have COPD or asthma,'' said Dunn.

''One person posted, another person posted, our teams posted. I loved the sibling rivalry videos where they chase each other to the top of the steps,'' said Duffy.

Screenshot: People are climbing steps at home and tagging the American Lung Association on social media.

''In one video it’s a group of people outside and they’re doing mountain climbers. Of course, they’re six feet apart! So, practicing social distancing,'' said Dunn.

Screenshot: Team STAB Plus, organized by Mike Carr, performed mountain climber exercises as part of the virtual climbing challenge.

Felice Kelem works for the American Lung Association’s Philadelphia and Lehigh Valley chapters. She says when the Arcadia duo approached her about the virtual video idea, she sprung into action.

''Everyone in our office is really thrilled and moved by the number of people,'' said Kelem. ''The reason for the climb is so that people, when they’re climbing, can feel what it’s like for someone who has a lung disease like asthma or COPD.''

There are over 40 organized climbs across the US that raise about seven million dollars for lung cancer research each year. The events are now being postponed due to coronavirus.

Kelem says the Lung Association continues to fund lung health research, including COVID-19 research, with hopes it will translate to a potential treatment.

Dunn says her mom, who beat lung cancer a few months ago, told her she enjoyed watching the virtual climbs go viral.

''She said it meant a lot to her, and it was nice to be able to do this for her and show the support for anyone struggling right now with COVID-19 or another lung illness,'' said Dunn.

Visit for a list of rescheduled climbs. Philadelphia's climb has been moved to September 12th.

The climb sign up fee is $35 and all participants are required to raise at least $100 through sponsors.

The American Lung Association is encouraging people to sign up for a climb on their website and to post a video of themselves climbing steps at-home or outdoors to social media in the meantime. You can tag their Facebook, Twitter or Instagram pages with your video and use the hashtags #FightForAirClimb, #FightForAir and #StairClimb.

PBS39 News Reports