ANKENY, Iowa -- Among the heavy weights and the treadmills, Denise Waddingham has found her place in a crowded gym.
"I’ve been training for two months," she laughs.
Three times a week, she gets her workout in on the stair-stepper. Waddingham admits she's not a fan of the machine, but a little voice inside keeps her going.
"She was very vibrant. She was a spunky Irish woman. I liked to say I get a lot of it from her," she smiles.
Waddingham's mother, Marcia, died in February from COPD, a lung disease she battled for 15 years that made it difficult for her to breathe. On Sunday, Waddingham will join thousands of others who will climb 85 floors and 1,800 steps through four of Des Moines' tallest buildings to raise money for lung disease research in the American Lung Association's Fight for Air Climb.
"Knowing it something that she wasn’t able to do towards the end of her life. she could hardly walk to the kitchen, so knowing that I have the ability to do this, why not do it because others can't," Waddingham says.
Organizers hope to raise $350,000 this year. Since its inception 14 years ago, the American Lung Association has raised more than $2.5 million. The Fight for Air Climb begins at 8 a.m. on Sunday.