Sixteen-year-old Gavin Smith is one of eight teenagers from Lighthouse for the Blind who will be taking part in the American Lung Association's Fight for Air Climb.

What You Need To Know

  • Gavin Smith is one of eight teenagers climbing for the American Lung Association

  • Despite his setbacks, he's committed to helping fight lung disease

  • This will be the second time he has participated in the Fight for Air Climb

  • For more information on the event, visit the ALA's Fight for Air Climb website

Smith and the teens participating in the climb are all part of the Transition for Teens program at the Lighthouse for the Blind and Low Vision in Hillsborough County. The money the team raises in the American Lung Association's Fight for Air Climb will help in the fight to end lung disease and support the Lung Association's COVID-19 action initiative to protect against future respiratory virus pandemics.

The Armwood High School sophomore got juvenile arthritis as a baby and his vision was impaired by the time he was 2.

He said that everything he sees is blurry, but that isn't keeping him from taking part in the climb.

"Just to show no matter what's going on, no matter what the situation is, no matter what you may or may not be going through, as long as your passion is strong enough for something and you want to accomplish something so much," said Smith. "Disability or not, challenge or not, you can accomplish it as long as you believe in yourself that much."

Inspiration and independence are exactly what Gaven gets from the Transition for Teens program at Lighthouse.

Sue Glaser started the program 20 years ago to help visually impaired students prepare for life after high school.

Students learn about teamwork, timeliness, they get gob training and are encouraged to contribute to their community.

"We feel like this is a great way for our organization, our students, to give back to the community, as well as have that expectation that they are members of society and perfectly capable of supporting the community and doing their part just like everybody else," said Glaser.

And just like every other teenager, Smith enjoys getting out.

"No matter if it's going out to eat or hanging out with my family or just getting some good exercise, you know?" he said.

He said the climb helps him do that. This 2022 climb will be his second time participating in the event.

Smith is exercising and has exceeded his training goal of climbing twenty flights of stairs

As for goals for his future, Smith wants to attend the University of South Florida and study psychology.

In the meantime, he's concentrating on climbing while inspiring others and supporting others.

The 18th Annual Fight for Air Climb will take place Saturday at Raymond James Stadium and starts at 8 a.m. Same-day registration is available. 

For more information, call 1-800-LUNGUSA (1-800-586-4872), or visit the American Lung Association's Fight for Air Climb website.