Fight For Air Walk at Third Street

As mist descended on Santa Monica's shore Sunday morning, hundreds gathered at Third Street Promenade for the fourth annual Fight For Air Walk, created by the American Lung Association, to promote exercise, healthy living and cleaner air.

The walk's major focus was to bring attention to breathing ailments and lung problems that come as a result of little to no exercise, pollution and secondhand smoking. There was a 2.55-mile course that circled downtown Santa Monica and down to the beach.

The event's participants were ready for their walk by 8:30 a.m., although the walk was not slated to begin until 9 a.m. on Third Street and Broadway.

The numbers soon grew as local meteorologist Josh Rubenstein, who served as the event's host, started making announcements and introducing sponsors and guests.

"Time to grease those knees," Rubenstein announced enthusiastically before introducing several guests and speakers.

Present at the event to share some words about specific lung and breathing ailments was Dr. Daniel Oh, chair of the Los Angeles Leadership Board.

"Every day, 63,000 people miss school or work because of asthma," Oh said. "Walks like these raise awareness. The more you exercise the better. We generally recommend three days of exercise a week."

Marsha Ramos, chair of the American Lung Association in Los Angeles, was also present at the event.

This walk raises necessary funds, Ramos said, to fund programs including research for Asthma Camp, the Lung Help Health Line and Better Breathers Club. The programs help make people aware of important lung issues.

"We are a national organization that is 109 years old," Ramos said. "We have national impact. The reason you do not see smoking in airplanes was because the American Lung Association drove the petition to get rid of that because it impacted everyone's health."

Also speaking at the walk and promoting healthy breathing was Bob Holbrook, Santa Monica city councilman and a Santa Monica College alumnus.

"It's important because it shows people there is support for clean air and to prevent lung disease," said Holbrook. "Other people will see them walking and they will learn from this as well."

During his speech to walkers getting ready for the route, Holbrook emphasized that Santa Monica was the first city in California to ban outdoor smoking in public areas despite pressure from those worried it would hurt tourism.

"Maybe some of them will stop smoking," Holbrook said, of international smokers visiting Santa Monica who witnessed the Fight For Air Walk.

Once the walk began, participants made their way through downtown Santa Monica, passing homes and neighborhoods and the thickly-veiled foggy shore. Tourists and local beachgoers stopped to watch the line of walkers wearing Fight For Air stickers, pins and T-shirts, inviting onlookers to join in.

Kevin McBride, of Premiere Healthcare, which handles shiftcare home nursing, was among the walkers. He said he was there to "give back to the community, to do something to make a difference."

Margareth Wind was another enthusiastic walker following the trail through the city's neighborhoods and shops.

"I'm glad that I'm learning about this," she said. "My grandfather had emphysema, so I'm glad that I'm here and learning."

The weather was chilly but the mood remained enthusiastic as supporters even stood by street corners and pathways supporting and encouraging the participants of the walk.

"I think exercise makes a big difference," McBride said. "What a good way this is to get some exercise but also to give back."

Alci RengifoComment