David Skalsky knows how important it is to have a goal.

In the summer of 2017, David Skalsky, known to his friends as “Ski”, underwent a successful left lung transplant operation at Temple University Hospital due to complications from a rare disease called interstitial lung disease. The condition destroyed 75% of his lungs.

Three years later and four more surgeries due to complications and other conditions Skalsky carried the ashes of his lung donor John Tuzak to Mount Kilimanjaro.

Skalsky’s goal was to climb Mount Kilimanjaro. It was always at a distance – something that gave him the strength to survive failures, painful surgeries and frustrating recovery processes.

Although Skalsky has not reached the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro at a height of 19,341 feet in Tanzania, Africa, he considers this goal his success after post-transplant surgery.

The 67-year-old Skaski recently passed a crucial five-year plan for lung transplant recipients.

“I asked that I had lived the longest, and the doctor told me 16 years. I said we should talk in 17 years, ”Skalski from Lancaster said.

Last month, Skalsky – who is recovering from another operation, this time on his back and not involved in a lung transplant – attended an American Lung Association competition for airlifting at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, where more than $ 100,000 was raised. During the event, he could only climb a couple of flights of stairs, but his team raised more than $ 1,000 for the American Lung Association. His team consisted of three generations of members of his family; his nephew, ages 7 and 11, took first place in his age group, he proudly says.

Skalsky may not have been able to fully participate in the entrance, but he made an impact in another way – addressing a crowd of about 250 people before the event and sharing his inspiring story.

“I keep telling people who are getting a transplant or thinking about a transplant: you can do whatever you want,” Skalski said. “It may not be Kilimanjaro or Everest, but if you have a goal that is as special to you as mine is to me, it will take you a long way.”

On April 9, Skalsky will take part in the American Lung Association Fight for Air Climb at Three Logan Square, 1717 Arch St., Philadelphia. Participants can register in person for $ 50 plus a minimum of $ 100 to raise funds. Skalsky will also address the crowd.

In fact, the performance also helped Skalski set a new goal.

“I want to talk to 10,000 people over the next 10 years,” Skalski said. “Then I will be 16-17 years old.”

Skalsky climbed to an altitude of 16,400 feet, but for the climber, telling his inspiring story, whether for hundreds of crowds at PNC Park or one person in bed at Temple University Hospital awaiting surgery, gives him as many thrills.

“When I finish my speech, I stand about two feet from the ground,” says Skalsky. “It bothers me.”

On April 1, Skalsky received permission to begin preparations for the next goal: climbing Everest. He plans to climb the mountain in two weeks in late September and early October.

His doctor told him to start training slowly and avoid steep hills, which is difficult for a climber. But Skalsky is confident, feeling ready to achieve the next goal on his to-do list.

Learn more about Fight for Air Climb on Saturday at action.lung.org.

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