BENNINGTON -- The Bennington Battle Monument has been illuminated in turquoise light this week as part of the American Lung Association's "Lung Force Initiative," which has lit up iconic buildings and structures around the country to raise awareness of lung cancer and women's lung health. The initiative coincides with National Women's Lung Health Week.

The association's northeast communications advisor, Kathleen O'Neill, said the initiative is meant to get people to realize that lung cancer is the "number one" killer of women. "When you see something like (the colored monument), it makes you question why."

"The Bennington Monument is definitely iconic," said Rebecca Ryan, the association's northeast senior director of health education and public policy. "More important, it's home to the Lung Association's annual Fighting for Air Stair Climb, and we have been lucky to work with Mary Lou Chicote and her team for many years. The monument is a perfect fit."

The annual climb to raise money for the association will be held at the monument on Saturday, June 7, at 10 a.m. During that event, those who have raised money for the cause will hike up the stairs of the monument that only open once a year for the climb. Chicote is the administrator of the monument and will be at the event all day to make sure things run smoothly.

People can form teams of at least five or run as individuals, and must raise at least $100 each. The lung association has tips for fundraising ideas at http://www.lung.org/associations/charters/northeast/. The goal of the climb is to raise $35,000, of which the Bennington community has already raised $12,575.

The money raised will fund the American Lung Association's research portfolio, raise awareness about lung cancer and lung disease, advocate for national increase of lung cancer research and offer patient and family support.

"For too long, lung cancer has been in the shadows," Ryan said. "More people die from lung cancer than prostate, breast and colorectal cancer combined, making it the leading cancer killer in America and in Vermont."

For the climb event details, or to register, contact VTClimb@LungNE.org. Event sponsors include the Alliance for Community Transformations, Anytime Fitness, Off the Wall Gym, Southwestern Vermont Medical Center and more.

Contact Tom Momberg at tmomberg@benningtonbanner.com. Follow him on Twitter @TomMomberg