By Joel Hillan

DENVER (CBS4) – Hundreds of climbers took to the stairs of Denver’s tallest building Sunday morning, coming together for the 600,000 Coloradans who suffer from lung disease.

Republic Plaza (credit: CBS)

Each climber goes up the 1,098 stairs of the Republic Plaza building at least once.

(credit: CBS)

Shannon Fair is climbing in remembrance of her father who died from cancer in both lungs.

Shannon Fair (R) (credit: CBS)

“I remember with my father he wouldn’t even be able to walk up a full flight of stairs, so being able to even just go up the stairs is my goal and thinking of him while I’m doing it,” said Fair.

Limon firefighter James Otteman is climbing in memory of his grandpa who died of lung cancer before Otteman was born.

(credit: CBS)

“I really think about his hard work and drive while going up the stairs. Everyone talks about how hard-working he was, and it keeps my legs pumping,” said Otteman.

As if climbing 1,098 steps isn’t already enough, he will do the climb in 60 pounds of firefighting gear.

“I also wear a breathing pack and face mask for breathing, just like we would in a structural fire and the worst part’s the heat in that bunker gear as well as the weight, so it’s a real challenge, especially at altitude, its 1,098 steps are brutal,” said Otteman.

Chris Mueser has been doing this climb for 10 years now.

“It’s amazing to be able to do this. You know a lot of people really take lung health for granted and to be able to do what we do is a real blessing,” said Mueser.

Chris Mueser (credit: CBS)

He climbs for his sister who died of a lung disease when she was just 8 years old.

“My sister died 35 years ago, and I still cry when I sign that memory board for her for this event every year,” said Mueser.

“Lung health is important and these people want to make sure that we are spending our dollars on research to find cures and treatments for COPD, asthma, emphysema, pulmonary fibrosis and lung cancer which is the number one cancer killer of men and women in the United States,” said Ellen Penrod, Executve Director American Lung Association Colorado.

She is grateful to the Colorado community for their continued support.

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“These are incredible people. I love all of the work we do here, and the community of Colorado that really does turn out for these events,” said Penrod.

The climb next year is scheduled for the first Sunday in March.

Joel Hillan anchors CBS4 This Morning on weekends as well as reports stories for CBS4 News at 5 and 6 p.m. Follow Joel on Twitter @joelhillan.

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