Adventure of the Week: Aid others' lungs by burning yours

The door to the stairwell of Sacramento's tallest skyscraper, the Wells Fargo Center, swings open Nov. 14 for an event benefitting the American Lung Association.

Tackle the 32 flights of stairs, and you'll help to make breathing easier - for someone else, anyway.

The American Lung Association challenge, already fulfilled by others in cities with towering buildings, is making its first stop in the City of Trees and is open to stair climbers and their sponsors for a fundraiser.

"The money is going to fund several local programs like Open Airways, Freedom for Smoking, asthma camps, awareness, and advocacy for air quality and global warming issues," says Robert Ojeda, executive director for the American Lung Association of California.

Arden Hills Resort Club & Spa and other fitness businesses are offering public training sessions around the event. The Arden training package, scheduled to begin Monday, wraps together the $100 donation each participant agrees to give and the $25 entry fee with eight training sessions and a T-shirt. The total cost is $285.

Arden fitness instructor Robert Linkul is training for the climb, following a major health setback.

After lung surgery in May to remove a carcinoid tumor - rare for his age of 28 - and then enduring a collapsed lung while recovering, Linkul knew he had to help.

"I had a very personal issue that brought me into a situation that had me become aware of lung disease," he said.

The tumor had gone undetected for nearly a decade. Now he's back on the stair climber.

During his treatment, the Sacramento resident was impressed with technology but knew more could be achieved to make lung surgery less invasive to shorten recovery time. Funds also will go to research and screening of lung ailments.

Last year, the Sacramento area raised about $50,000 for the association through various events. Since this is the first year Sacramento is doing the climb, organizers hope to double that figure.

"I really want to be able to help. Sacramento has really bad levels of asthma and pollution," Linkul said. "Being a strength and conditioning coach, I thought of developing a team to do the climb."

Within weeks of his surgery, Linkul had heard about the event and acted. He has set a goal of getting enough participants to raise $2,500, and he's halfway there.

He has about 12 trainees who are pumped for the big climb - all 612 steps of it. And he hopes this can be an annual thing for him and his team.

"I'm planning on climbing them twice," he says, "but we'll see what my lungs have to say."