ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – It was a day of celebration as members of the community came together to honor one man who has served the community for more than two decades on Saturday. Today’s “Fight for Air Climb” was not only a fundraiser for the American Lung Association but also a way to honor one firefighter who always does so much for the community he serves.

“We have over 130 participants, 19 teams here fundraising trying to make every step count as we battle lung disease,” said Ryan Cangiolosi, chair for Fight for Air Climb.

The event involved climbing six flights of stairs three times for the cause. The highlight of the day was honoring one man who has served the community for the last two decades.

Captain Miguel Tittman of Albuquerque Fire Rescue said, “This firefighter has portrayed a very high level of professionalism, a very high level of excellence in his job.”

Lieutenant Tomas Maestas has been a firefighter for 26 years, beginning his journey with the Air Force in 1995 as a firefighter. In 2004, he joined Albuquerque Fire Rescue.

“When I was in high school, I always wanted to be a firefighter. I decided to join the Air Force and go through their training,” said Lt. Maestas. His leadership and drive are what lead his peers to nominate him for New Mexico Firefighter of the Year.

Lieutenant Maestas says he’s honored by the nomination but says it’s his team that are real heroes. “I’m very humbled by that because I know each and every one of my brothers and sisters of Albuquerque Fire Rescue do the same thing, they help those in need. I feel like I’m not doing anything any different than they are,” said Lt. Maestas.

His biggest supporter couldn’t be more proud. “That he always saves people’s lives and that they can live another day!” said Caden Maestas, his son.

Today’s Fight for Air Climb event was at an Albuquerque training facility. The annual event also gives people the chance to experience a state-of-the-art training facility while raising money to fight lung disease.

Today’s event raised close to $42,000 for the American Lung Association.