Giving back through acts of service – Fight for Air Climb

March 1, 2019By Acts of Kindness, Behind the Shelf Blog, Tradition of Giving


By Julie Bonnell, vice president of operations, for the Tradition of Giving blog series

The HRG team is known for raising funds throughout the year for various causes, but we are also very much hands-on and, when we can, like to see the results of our efforts in giving.

Last year we chose to get involved once again with The Fight for Air Climb, a fundraising event for the American Lung Association which works to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease. This unique vertical walk/run up 42 floors happens every year, and Milwaukee – one of 44 sites nationwide – has one of the biggest events.Fight for air climb logo

HRG became involved because our Wellness committee — a group of employees committed to finding opportunities for our peers to engage in activities that improve physical and emotional health — looks for opportunities to give back to the community as a team. The call for volunteers fit this objective perfectly.

Personally, this charity is important to me both because of team members here who have experienced loss of family due to lung cancer as well as my personal loss of my mother-in-law, Rosie. She was an amazing woman who we lost just a few years ago to lung cancer. Watching her go from being a vital member of her parish, cooking lunches for the Bingo Hall, and volunteering in the food pantry to lying in a bed struggling to breathe and speak was heartbreaking.

The Fight for Air event which happens early in the morning, put our HRG team at the finish line, 1,034 steps up. (Our volunteer group took the elevator!) We performed a variety of tasks — handing out water to tired runners/walkers; capturing the manual race finish records as back up to the electronic recording; checking on the wellness of those completing cool down laps (there are paramedics one floor down so no need to be a first responder); taking group pictures for those that have completed; and cheering for those finishing the race.

All of these tasks gave us a good dose of happy as the sun came up over Lake Michigan. However, the best experience of all was doing these things for the Anthem Fire Fighter Challenge. Teams of Fire and Police ran up separate stairwells in full gear and, wow, were they competitive! Pride for their battalion was evident as they pushed themselves to the limit. You could hear the alarms going off in the stairwell as their oxygen tanks were depleted and see the exhaustion as they removed their gear once crossing the timing pads.

In 2018 this event raised $740,000 and also raised awareness in our community. Local officials and media turned out. So many people are impacted in a positive way that carries well past the day itself.

I am so pleased that HRG is planning again to be out in force for the 2019 event. Giving back to others is part of our DNA and I am proud to work alongside such generous people.