By Michelle Colesanti

The Brandon Beef ‘O’ Brady’s, which is located at 210 S. Kings Ave., recently hosted a day-long fundraiser in support of local Hillsborough County Fire Fighters’ planned climb of Tampa’s 42-floor Bank of America Plaza building on Saturday, March 22. The climb is in support of the American Lung Associations’ unique “Fight for Air” campaign for individuals and teams who are ready to conquer lung disease one step at a time. It was just one of the fundraisers that are planned prior to the climb. Beef ‘O’ Brady’s has participated with the fire fighters team for the last few years.

The team currently has 32 members and hopes that a few more will sign on prior to the climb. Firefighters and family members participate on the team. The firefighters climb in their bunker gear, which weighs 55 lbs. The team’s goal for this year is to raise $8,000. Participants have the opportunity to practice at least two times a week prior to the event.

Celia Merritt is the team leader and has been racing to the top for the last four years. Merritt is both a fire fighter and a paramedic. Her reason for participating is because a lot of the money raised goes back to Moffitt and cancer research. She said, “My mom was diagnosed [and still living with] lung cancer three-and-a-half years ago.” Lung cancer is the most fatal cancer. Although most associate it with those who smoke, only 10 percent of those diagnosed are actually smokers. Merritt’s best time for the climb is 13 minutes which she hopes to better this year.

The American Lung Association donates $5 million a year to the local Moffitt Cancer Center. They also support breathing programs and childhood asthma.

The Fight For Air Climb will kickoff at 8 a.m. on Saturday, March 22 in the courtyard of the Bank of America Plaza Tower.  For questions about the Fight For Air Climb, joining the team or donating, please contact Celia Merritt at 957-2080.


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Michelle has been with the Osprey Observer for almost nine years, and her current position is Assignment Editor. She resides in Bloomingdale with her husband Phil, two sons, Philip and Matthew, and Tigger the cat.