After living in the smoggy San Joaquin Valley, Laura Fultz Stout is delighted to be in San Leandro, where she works as a clean air advocate for the American Lung Association.
On Saturday she will join 1,400 people from around the Bay Area at the Bank of America building in San Francisco.
Together they will take part in "The Fight For Air Climb" -- bypassing the elevators and walking up 52 flights of stairs.
Their goal is to raise money and consciousness about clean air and other healthy habits, notably quitting or avoiding smoking.
“Everyone knows someone who has been affected by asthma, emphysema, lung cancer or tobacco addiction," said Jane Warner, CEO of the American Lung Association in California.
Stout said this will be her third climb.
Her mission is both personal and professional.
She developed adult-onset asthma while living in the Valley where polluted air tends to collect like water at the bottom of a pool.
Stout used to work for the Coalition for Clean Air in San Joaquin County.
Now she is a Lung Associaition advocate. Her duties include campaigning against the self-inflicted pollution of cigarette smoke.
The Association says lung disease is the third leading cause of death in the United States. It is the leading cause of cancer death in both men and women, taking more lives than breast, colorectal, prostate and pancreatic cancers combined.
The group says lung disease is particularly prevalent in California. Ninety percent of Californians live in areas with unhealthy air, contributing to breathing problems for the nearly five million people afflicted with asthma, including nearly one million children.
Stout said the Bay Area is relatively protected against air pollution by offshore winds. But there are stretches, such as the Interstate 880 corridor, where geography, traffic and industry create less healthy conditions.
Meanwhile, her focus in on Saturday, when she expects to ascend the 1,197 steps in about 30 minutes.
"You just take it one step at a time," she said.
To learn more about the Associaition or join the event click on this link.
What do you think about local air quality? What steps have you taken in your own life?