Woman preparing to climb ‘Rainier’ — Tower, that is — in honor of late mother

Laura Shanks with her mother Maggie.
Laura Shanks, right, with her mother Tammi.

Next Saturday, Jan. 25, former Woodway resident Laura Shanks and nearly two dozen friends and family members will be making the 40-story climb of Seattle’s Rainier Tower — all in honor of Shanks’ mother Tammi, who died in 2008 after a long battle with lung disease.

The Fight for Air Climb is a fundraiser aimed at raising more than $50,000 for the American Lung Association’s (ALA) education, research and advocacy work. Shanks decided to form Team Tammi after participating in a bike ride fundraiser for ALS, in honor of her best friend’s mother.

“I was inspired… to see what I could do to honor my mother,” Shanks said. “I reached out to ALA and they told me they were looking for a social media manager to help promote an event. I learned about the Fight for Air Climb and decided to sign up and see if any of my family members would be interested. I got a huge response!I”

“Tammi’s Team” is currently in first place in fundraising, she noted.

Shanks spent her childhood in Woodway, leaving for the University of Oregon after graduating from Blanchet High School in 2007. Tammi Shanks was diagnosed with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, a rare autoimmune disorder, in 2001. “Her condition remained relatively stable until January 2008, when she was forced to take medical leave from her nursing career at Northwest Hospital,” Shanks said. “As her health situation declined, she applied for and was accepted into the UW lung transplant program. She was waiting for her new lungs when she died on Nov. 30, 2008 at University Hospital.”

In 2009, Shanks’ family started the Tammi O’Brien Shanks Memorial Nursing Scholarship at Shoreline Community College. Each year, this scholarship is given to one nursing student in their second year, and it pays for half of the second-year tuition. “My family gets a ton of applications and we read them together to choose who we’d like to give the money to,” Shanks said. “Then the scholarship board makes the ultimate decision. In 2013, I got to choose.” The committee usually looks for a parent who has small children at home and is going back to school, which is what her mother did, Shanks added.

Shanks admits she is “not the most athletic person,” but has been practicing stairs and working out at the gym in preparation for the 40-story climb. She also always takes the stairs when she goes to work in her Bellevue office building.

“Healthy lungs are a gift,” Shanks said. “We don’t realize how lucky we are to be able to breathe.”


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