DES MOINES, Iowa — Nearly 700 people hit the stairs Sunday morning in some of Des Moines’ tallest buildings. The American Lung Association’s annual “Fight for Air Climb” returned to Iowa’s capital city for the 20th time. It’s the first time the fundraiser was held downtown since 2019.

“You just have to find a reason to do one more step,” said Dr. Richard Deming, a climb participant.

Deming is the head of MercyOne’s cancer center. He climbed Sunday to support his organization, Above and Beyond Cancer.

“It’s a cancer survivor group dedicated to elevating the lives of those touched by cancer to help create a healthier world,” he said.

Everyone climbed though for the American Lung Association, which said it raised more than $225,000 dollars from Sunday’s event.

“The money that we raise helps support our programs and services, our research, we have a couple research programs going on at the University of Iowa Hospital and Clinic, and our advocacy efforts. So it’s really good and it’s making a difference and impact on the lives,” said Micki Sandquist, Executive Director of the American Lung Association in Iowa.

She said in total, climbers tackled 91 floors and 1,936 steps across three downtown buildings.

Climber’s like Deming admit it’s a lot of steps but they relish the challenge.

“If you don’t reach above and beyond what you know you can do, you have no idea what’s really possible,” he said.

First responders also got to take their shot at the course. They climbed all 91 floors in full gear.