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Oklahoma City double-lung recipient takes on climbing challenge

Diagnosed with cystic fibrosis at age 3, Jonathan Sacker, of Oklahoma City, said a new pair of lungs allowed him to breathe freely for the first time. Saturday he will participate in the 2013 Fight For Air Climb health challenge.
BY ADAM KEMP Modified: February 22, 2013 at 9:06 pm •  Published: February 23, 2013

To chronicle his ordeal, Sacker recently finished a book, “Imperfect Perfection: A Cystic Fibrosis Journey.” He calls it a humorous collection of stories from his numerous stays in the hospital.

“The book is funny because being able to laugh at myself seemed to always pull me through the tougher times,” he said. “I want you to laugh and enjoy the many wild experiences I've had. I think people that have had CF will connect with a lot that I've been through because they've have probably been through many of the same situations.”

Throughout the climb Saturday, participants will see signs in the stairwell of the building comparing their breathing rates to certain lung diseases. Whitney Proctor, the development manager for the American Lung Association, said the purpose is to give climbers a new appreciation for their lungs.

“It's just to give them a little perception of how it feels to live with asthma or any other lung disease,” Proctor said. “We just hope people have a new understanding of what life is like on a daily basis for people with these lung diseases.”

Sacker said he hopes to complete all 34 floors of the challenge, but he injured his foot during a recent workout so he might not be able to finish.

“If I finish, that would be great but not totally necessary,” he said. “If people can see me climb even just one flight, that's a victory.”