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Climbing for air
Samantha Mazur of Milwaukee, left, and her mother Christie Deyo of Monroe will climb 90 flights of stairs at the U.S. Bank Center in Milwaukee on Saturday. Deyo was inspired to join the Fight for Air Climb by the American Lung Association after losing her father to lung cancer. To order either of these photos, click here. (Times photo: Marissa Weiher)

If you go ...

What: American Lung Association Fight for Air Climb

Where: U.S. Bank Center, Milwaukee

When: Saturday

To donate: Go to and click donate, type "Stepping Rebels" in the team search bar

MONROE - Christie Deyo found motivation after she lost her father to lung cancer in October - enough to try to create change one step at a time.

On Saturday, the Monroe woman will push herself up more than 1,000 steps of the U.S. Bank Center building in downtown Milwaukee to raise money for the Fight for Air Climb event hosted by the American Lung Association.

Deyo and six relatives have formed a team called the "Stepping Rebels." Captained by Deyo's friend AnnMarie King of Sheboygan, each member pledged to raise at least $100. The team is made up of King; Deyo; Deyo's daughter Samantha Mazur; Deyo's sister Jody Newman; her two nieces Shelby Homan and Kassidy Newman; and her nephew Kayden Homan. Other family members, including Deyo's mother, will be cheering on the competitors.

"They're pretty excited for this," Deyo said.

Deyo is also looking forward to the grueling task of ascending 47 floors, or 90 flights of stairs. Money from the event, specifically 89 cents per each dollar donated, will be dedicated to research and educational programs. Research will be for more than just lung cancer, which is the leading killer among cancer types. The American Lung Association provides support and education for people who deal with asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, but also pushes for a cleaner environment through combating air pollution and fighting against tobacco.

The goal for Deyo is to create a healthier world while remembering her father Howard Wilkinson. She recalled a hard-working man who loved to spend time camping, but unfortunately "smoked like a chimney."

"Growing up, he worked all the time, so when we got the chance to spend time as adults, we did," Deyo said. "He loved to camping at Mount Carroll in Illinois. He and my mom had a campsite there and would go every weekend."

Training has been a trying experience, and Deyo has been pushing forward with a simple technique: round trips up and down her own basement steps. The driving force to keep her going has been the knowledge that she may be able to impact other people's lives through calling attention to the dangers of smoking, a habit she once had and kicked. Her father shared a similar path of smoking for years before ending his own habit too late.

"I'm just hoping that doing this raises awareness," Deyo said. "He quit 15 years ago, but the damage had been done."