Fight For Air Climb event gets personal for firefighters from Marathon’s Los Angeles refinery

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Los Angeles, California, Foundation, People
Members of the team representing Marathon Petroleum at the 2024 SoCal Fight For Air Climb event. Front row (L to R): Gabriel Ascencio, Mike Martinez, Sr. and Mike Martinez, Jr. Back row (L to R):  Luis Escobar, Charlie Vanisi, Randy Hudgens, Josh Gardner, Brian Santos, Esteban Esqueda, Mark Prieto, Jason Nicols, Cynthia Chavez, Nick Espinoza and Frank Parze.
  • Firefighters from Marathon Petroleum returned to the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum for the Fight For Air Climb – Southern California.
  • In its 17th year, the unique event challenges participants to climb thousands of stairs in the iconic stadium to raise money and awareness for the American Lung Association.
  • This year, a record number of firefighters from Marathon Petroleum took part in the annual event to honor a fellow firefighter who recently suffered a lung-related illness that nearly ended his life.

The saying, “It’s not what stands in front of you, it’s who stands beside you” has new meaning for Lloyd Legg, an Operations Project Specialist at Marathon Petroleum’s Los Angeles refinery and Battalion Chief (BC) on the refinery’s fire department. During a work trip to Texas in November 2023, he suffered a major medical emergency, and his team was there to help.

“We were in College Station, Texas, for fire training, something we had done many times before,” said Lloyd, who had been suffering from an ongoing respiratory illness that he described as manageable.

Shortly after arriving, he headed to dinner with his fellow firefighters but soon found it difficult to catch his breath.

“What I thought to be something I could manage until my next doctor’s appointment, no longer felt manageable,” Lloyd said. “I took a puff of my inhaler to alleviate the issue, but my relief was only temporary.”

Lloyd said he didn’t want to bother anyone, so he kept quiet and sat down for dinner. When the food arrived, his struggle to breath returned.

“I excused myself again and took another puff of the inhaler, returning quickly to the table,” said Lloyd.

While making light of the situation and laughing it off, his condition only worsened, forcing him to excuse himself from the table a second time.

“I went outside hoping to catch my breath,” Lloyd said.

Los Angeles refinery Fire Chief Randy Hudgens’ message in support of Lloyd was one of many messages shared on the stadium’s digital boards during the event.

When a team member came out to check on him, Lloyd said he convinced him he was fine and persuaded the reluctant team member to go back inside. In reality, Lloyd couldn’t breathe.

“At that point, I could only exhale short breaths but nothing into my lungs,” he said.

He finally reached for his phone, unable to talk, and sent one desperate text to the group chat.

“I’m dying! Come.”

Within seconds, his team members surrounded him outside the restaurant before everything went dark for Lloyd. He woke up 24 hours later in a local hospital.

“There was my wife, my son and a good friend all there by my side,” he said.

Lloyd Legg on duty.

Lloyd spent five days in the hospital, three of those in the intensive care unit. He had survived a condition called pulmonary edema, caused when too much fluid builds up in the lungs.

“My fire brothers also visited me, two at a time,” he said. “Once they knew I was going to be okay, the jokes started rolling in.”

They started calling him “BC Wheezy,” inspired by the Toy Story character “Wheezy” and gave him a figurine of the animated penguin, who battles asthma in the movie franchise, which now sits on his desk.

“It’s a daily reminder of the day I could have taken my last breath if it wasn’t for the quick actions of my brothers and the incredible care team at Baylor Scott & White Medical Center,” Lloyd said.

But the support didn’t stop there. When the time came to register for the 17th annual Fight For Air Climb - Southern California at the iconic Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, many of Lloyd’s fellow firefighters registered in his honor. Team members from Marathon Pipe Line (MPL) attended and staffed a pipeline safety booth. Lloyd couldn’t participate but served as the team’s mascot.

“Let’s do it for BC Wheezy!” became the group’s rallying cry as more than a dozen firefighters from the refinery and members of MPL’s Damage & Prevention team scaled thousands of stairs in full gear at the famed stadium. The proceeds raised support lung disease research, educational programs and advocacy efforts for the American Lung Association.

“We were proud to show our support for Lloyd and for all firefighters that suffer from lung-related issues,” said Randy Hudgens, Fire Chief at the Los Angeles refinery. “This was our largest showing yet, and it continues to be an honor to represent Marathon Petroleum at this unique and important event.”

The booth team members from Marathon Pipe Line set up to share information about pipeline safety.

Hundreds took part in the fundraiser, one of dozens such events held in cities across the U. S. Lloyd hopes that by sharing his story and the story of his firefighting family, it might inspire others to join the fight against lung-related illnesses and to also serve as a reminder to not delay seeking medical care when something doesn’t seem right.

“I couldn’t be prouder to be part of this team of dedicated men and women,” Lloyd said. “I am proud to stand beside them, and thankful they stand beside me.”

For the third year in a row, the Los Angeles refinery made a $3,000 donation to the cause as a sponsor of the event. The team raised an additional $2,000 to support the cause.

The team representing Marathon Petroleum at the 2024 SoCal Fight For Air Climb. (L to R) Cynthia Chavez, Frank Parze, Nick Espinoza, Mike Martinez II, Mike Martinez, Ramon Martinez, Randy Hudgens, Mark Prieto, Jason Nichols, Josh Gardner, Gabe Ascencio, Edwin Reyes, Brian Santos and Luis Escobar.