KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — A Knoxville man who has suffered from severe asthma and allergies his entire life is now defying the odds and plans to complete the vertical mile race at the Fight For Air Climb in Nashville later this month.
Matt Miller's earliest memory was sitting in an oxygen tent at the hospital when he was only two years old due to his asthma.
His asthma is triggered by allergies and environmental conditions ranging from grass and pollen to cats and dogs and scented candles.
“My childhood and teenage years were marked by numerous asthma attacks that would result in having to stay home from school for a week at a time. That happened more times than I can count,” said Miller. “For the worst ones I recall, the airway restriction and lack of air would limit my ability to speak more than one-two words at a time and then I’d have to stop and take several breaths before I could speak the next few words. It can be very frightening.”
Miller is now defying all odds and competing in his second vertical mile and his fifth Fight For Air Climb.
The Fight For Air Climb is a race up the stairs in one of the tallest building in Nashville, the 505, to raise awareness and money to fight lung disease.
The participants race up the building 10 times up and 10 times down.
In 1999, Miller had an asthma attack that changed the course of his life. He only had 60 percent of his lung capacity and his capacity continued to decline.
By 2008, Miller's lung capacity reached an all-time low of 45 percent.
He received advice from his doctor that he needed to get more cardiovascular exercise if he wanted to retain his remaining lung capacity. Miller then reached out to the American Lung Association and signed up for his very first Fight For Air Climb in Nashville.
“I’m proving that asthma is avoidable and that asthmatics can lead a very active life. It can be done,” said Miller. “It is possible to lead an active life with asthma if you understand your condition and what triggers it and avoid those triggers to the greatest extent. It takes discipline to learn your condition.
Miller has also taken to educating others on how to avoid daily asthma triggers through his YouTube channel called "Avoiding Asthma".
Registration for the 2019 Fight For Air Climb is currently open online or by calling 615-510-3552.