By Anna Skinner
Westfield resident Joel Tragesser has been participating in the American Lung Association’s Fight for Air Climb for five years.
Last year, he raised $11,500 with his organization, Quarles and Brady. Tragesser’s wife, Kirsten, lost her daughter Maddie to heart and lung complications, and Tragesser said a lot of the fundraising came in support of that incident.
“We had the idea that if we did an open house to start the climb team, maybe that would get more people interested,” he said. “I thought it would be a good idea because this past January would’ve been Maddie’s 16th birthday, so we had the open house the day before her birthday.”
Eighty people came, and Tragesser raised $3,000 in the first couple of weeks. Twenty-two Westfield residents signed up and competed in the Fight for Air Climb March 5. As of March 31, the Quarles Climbers team had raised the most of any team – $18,652.
“Maddie is buried in Westfield. We really have a Westfield connection, and so many friends and neighbors participated from Westfield,” Tragesser said. “Our goal was to raise $20,000.”
The Quarles Climbers are the sponsors for the ALA November gala, and Tragesser said in the next few months, they will plan for that event.
Tragesser said people have already approached him in hopes of joining the Quarles Climbers next year.
“One thing we talked about next year is my son is a freshman in high school, and he does cross country and track. He was the fastest on our team, and he won our age division. So, next year he and some of his friends may try to form a Westfield High School team to compete,” he said.
To see fundraising totals for the 2016 Fight for Air Climb, visit http://action.lung.org/site/TR?fr_id=12820&pg=entry.