Sally Szablewiski might have a fear of heights, but that won’t stop her from rappelling from the top of the Wit Hotel in Chicago next month.
“I am doing this to support the cause and to honor family members living with lung disease,” said the 56-year-old Naperville resident.
Szablewiski, a nurse at Edward Hospital in Naperville, is one of 85 participants who will drop 27 stories during Skyline Plunge! Chicago, a fundraising event to benefit the Respiratory Health Association’s lung disease research and programs.
“I thought the Skyline Plunge would be neat to do not just as a thrill-seeker, but as a health-care professional, an asthmatic,” Szablewiski said. “Years ago the diagnosis of lung disease such as lung cancer was a death sentence, but it doesn’t have to be like that anymore.”
For Szablewiski, respiratory health isn’t just a good cause, it’s a personal one. An asthmatic all her life and the mother of two daughters with asthma, her father-in-law passed away years ago after battling lung cancer. So Sept. 8, she plans to take a leap of faith to raise awareness and funds for the Respiratory Health Association.
“I don’t have a bucket list, but every now and then I hear something, and I think it would be really neat to do,” she said. “This is one of those things.”
Gina Schwieger, senior director of special events for the Respiratory Health Association, said Szablewiski’s decision to help improve the future of lung health should be an inspiration to us all.
“Sally is rappelling to recognize that asthma no longer causes her to miss out on all life has to offer,” Schwieger said. “In Chicago land, more than 1 million people are living with a respiratory illness.”
And Schwieger said, while rappelling 27 stories might not be for everyone, there are plenty of other ways to raise funds and awareness for a cause that affects such a large number of people.
“Without all of the generous support for our special events and advocacy work, we would not be able to reach the thousands of people that we do through programs such as asthma education, smoking cessation and conferences for people living chronic obstructive pulmonary disease,” she said.