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San Joaquin Valley College Blog

Respiratory Therapy students huff and puff all the way to the top

April 29, 2015

Rancho Cordova Respiratory Therapy students Fight for Air Climb fullDuring the early morning of April 11th, 35 SJVC Respiratory Therapy students and Rancho Cordova campus staff and faculty raced to the top of the Wells Fargo Center’s building – Sacramento’s tallest – to raise funds for the American Lung Association’s annual Fight for Air Climb.

“This is our fifth year participating, and there’s a lot of pride in the fact that we just keep coming back and doing it,” says Amy Bianco, Campus Dean.

This vertical road race was straight up 34 flights of stairs, 10 steps each (for a total of 340 steps to the top). The reward? The best view in the city. All 13 teams felt the pull of leg muscles not accustomed to the rigors of the climb, and respiratory systems pushed to pump air in big gulps.

All of SJVC’s team made it to the top within the average up-and-down time of about 12 minutes – the return trip considerably faster and easier.

Respiratory Therapy student Amber Bard did hit just a little snag in her race to the top. “I had made it up a whole 7 or so flights before the sobering frustration of having forgotten my inhaler at home caught up to me,” she says. “It became a literal fight for air with every step, and only 27 flights of a tight-chested struggle later, did I emerge into the bright daylight…my lower body burning in a lactic acid inferno.”

Amber’s teammates cheered her arrival at the top, enjoyed the spectacular view together, took a few pictures, and then reconvened on the 17th floor, where music and food were provided. “We stuffed our faces with free bagels and coconut water, and forced the DJ to play songs like ‘Cha Cha Slide,’ until our exhaustion and dire need of a shower caught up to us,” says Amber.

“Teams can use this event to reach a fitness target, as a competitive race, or as a great way to be active and meet new friends,” says Amy. “I was just proud to see a lot of Term One, first-time students participating and then come up that final stairwell and I could see the pride on their faces in what they accomplished.”

The Fight for Air Climb raised $43,200 that day, $3,500 of which was earned by SJVC team participants. A new team – some current, but mostly new student members – will take their place at the foot of that same tallest Sacramento building again next year and do their part to help their community, while enjoying their own spirit of volunteerism.

“It was an amazing experience on its own, but to have done it with friends and familiar faces made it all the more memorable,” says Amber. “Here’s to next year’s climb!”