INDIANAPOLIS — Ricki Shepard is working hard in preparation for this weekend's Fight for Air Climb at Lucas Oil Stadium. The American Lung Association in Indiana has participants raise funds to end lung disease and climb more than 4,000 steps inside the stadium.
“I do have to train, I do have to prepare myself because it is a challenge," said Shepard. “This will be I believe my 13th year now.”
Shepard works as a respiratory therapist, so she knows the importance of this climb.
“Usually about halfway through, it’s like, ‘I can't do it’, but you just keep going," said Shepard. "It's like you start thinking about your patients that are struggling to breathe. That can barely get from their bed to the kitchen and it's like, 'You know, I can get through this. I can do it.'”
In 2015, the event got more personal.
“My mom was diagnosed with lung cancer, which was kind of surprising because she quit smoking almost 20 years prior to her diagnosis," said Shepard.
She passed away in 2019.
“Having a little extra meaning behind it just kind of motivates you to keep going and puts a pep in your step," said Shepard. "My mom, she is my hero. She is a phenomenal lady.”
Shepard will climb another year to help end lung disease.
“She knows I was there to support her and do what I could, but this was just another way that, even if it didn't impact her directly at the time, she knew that it would help others down the road," said Shepard. "That meant a lot to her, too.”