2018 Hustle up the Hancock

I walk to work.  I walk around my beautiful city.  I’m lucky enough to have a Fitbit that tells me I average 14,000-15,000 steps daily.  Every day.

And several times every week I’ll pause and look around at the brightness or gloom, at the sun or rain, in the heat or cold – and it will dawn on me how lucky I am – and I’ll think about the gifts I’ve been given – and often I’ll tremble a bit, and my eyes will well up when I think about Kari and her family, about Alex, and about the medical folks and family and friends who helped me through some seriously crazy $hit.  And I’ll think about the friends who surround and support me now.

I also think about the organizations that helped me stay on this planet – and help me and others stay here a little more comfortably, and a little longer.  The Respiratory Health Association and so many other organizations – this is always one of my opportunities to pay some of that back – or forward.

This climb really means an awful lot to me and I wouldn't miss it for the world.  This will be the 16th time I strut my fanny up the steps at the Hancock and this is my team's 15th climb.  Kari was #13 on her high school volleyball team – And as they have for about 12 years now – her crazy, lovable teammates, #15, #12, #8, #7, #4 & #2 will be in the stairwells with me – along with several other people Kari grew up with – and 80+ people on my team.  And, the kidney #7 gave me is working as awesomely as the lungs #13 gave me.

Can you imagine what it feels like to live with crappy lungs for 39 years – then receive a gift of new lungs from a beautiful Iowa girl and her family.  And then to meet that family and be connected with friends and teammates who loved Kari…  And have them come out year after year to celebrate Kari with you.  And then, when you find yourself in trouble again, Kari’s friend Alex throws you a rope – gives you a kidney – and allows you to climb for many more years!  They’re good people, and they help me understand who Kari would have become.  And I get to tell people that I’m slowly being rebuilt into a girl from Iowa…

I do this climb to tell people about Kari – and tell people about the goodness of her and her family and friends – and I tell people about Alex and the importance of organ donation.   And we also do this for people with crappy lungs, like I had.  RHAMC helps people breathe easier – they fund research in lung disease – they help people stop smoking – they help people with lung cancer, pulmonary fibrosis, cystic fibrosis, COPD, asthma and other respiratory diseases live longer, easier lives.  One of RHAMC’s mottos has been, “If you can’t breathe, nothing else matters…”  I lived through that motto, and I know too many people living it now.  The RHAMC and all of these crazy people who climb with me, and you, help people breathe.  We have a very special mission.

Our cause touched Laura and me another way two years ago...  My beautiful mom-in-law was diagnosed with lung cancer in fall of 2015.  Much to my Laura's dismay, moms and I were partners in mischief and finding the wrong foods to eat, particularly doughnuts.  When she was diagnosed with lung cancer, mom and I had some long chats about options, and the strength it sometimes takes not to fight.  She chose to fight.  Ironically - the chemo had dramatically shrunk her tumors - it worked.  But it was too toxic for the rest of mom and she didn't survive.  We do this to fund research so maybe next time - someone else's mom-in-law has a better chance of hanging around and sneaking doughnuts with them.
I know these are not the best of financial times for some of us...  If you have a few bucks burning a hole in your pocket, I or anyone on my team would be honored to receive a pledge...  But more than anything, I'd love it if you would check out my little website and read about the beautiful girl whose lungs I breathe with, as well as the beautiful girl who gave me her kidney - and the people who surrounded them, and surround me now – people who have allowed me to leap tall buildings...

To see my Hustle page or pledge me:  Click Here…

To see my website about Kari, go to  www.ClimbingForKari.org

To find someone on my full Kari’s Klimbers team:  Click Here…

These climbs always mean so much to me...  Being surrounded by people who knew and loved Kari, and by people who know and love me, is something that defies description...and the support I've received from people like you has allowed me to tell so many people about Kari...  In the past 16 years, our team has raised well over $300,000.00 - because of people like you...  Thank you...  I get to do a fair amount of public speaking and, often enough, when I walk into a room, more than one person pulls me aside and says, "You're the one who climbs a hundred stories with your new lungs, and with your donor's friends!!!"  And, often enough, they already know Kari's beautiful smile...  I am that guy, and I'm proud of that - and more than anything, I want them to know her smile.  I will have had her beautiful lungs for almost 18 years when I climb - and her friend's beautiful kidney for 6 years in May - and they have and will allow me to do more than I'd ever dreamed possible...

And finally, and very important to me - please consider organ & tissue donation, register to be a donor on your state' donor registry, and tell your family how you feel.  I know a beautiful girl from Iowa who knew how she felt and she told her family - I think about her every single day.

Love, Steve

Steve Ferkau
Chicago, IL
Kari's Klimbers

Kari’s Klimbers – 2018 Team Recruit Letter!!!

I walk to work.  I walk around my beautiful city.  I’m lucky
enough to have a Fitbit that tells me I average 14,000-15,000 steps daily.  Every day.

And several times every week I’ll pause and look around at the brightness or gloom, at the sun or rain, in the heat or cold - and it will dawn on me how lucky I am - and I’ll think about the gifts I’ve been given - and often I’ll tremble a bit, and my eyes will well up when I think about Kari and her family, about Alex, and about the medical folks and family and friends who helped me through some seriously crazy $hit.  And I’ll think about the friends who surround and support me now.
I also think about the organizations that have helped me stay on this planet - and help me and others stay her a little more comfortably, and a little longer.  The Respiratory Health Association, The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, so many others...  This is always one of my opportunities to pay some of that back - or forward.

2018 will be my 16th climb – And it will be the 15th time our Kari’s Klimbers have taken the stairs 94 floors, 1,622 steps to the top of the John Hancock Center for the Respiratory Health Association of Metropolitan Chicago.
All is well with me – I’m breathing and peeing like a racehorse.  My beautiful lungs have been performing between 110-120% of expected for my age for the past several years.  Can you imagine going from 10-15% to 120%???  And since Alex gave it to me, my kidney function has been better than it’s been in the past 30+ years!  And my Alex is doing awesomely with her one kidney, and her Matt, and their two beautiful little boys, Eli and Noah!!!

It’s that time of year again…  The 2018 climb is not yet sold out so, if you've ever thought you might want to take a crack at this, or if you've joined me before and want to do it again, registration for the 2018 climb is still a possibility!!!  The climb will be on the last Sunday in February, 2016 – Sunday, February 25, 2015.   Registration is the same as last year –  $155.
My www.ClimbingForKari.org website needs a little updating – but the links should be going to the right place soon.  I registered in October to create our “Kari’s Klimbers” team (and commit to raising $1000) so that our team was available to join at 8:00am on Wednesday, November 1st  - we currently have around 80 climbers and there is room for more!  Registering and paying the $155 fee does not commit you to raising any additional funds beyond the registration fee, though, I’m always grateful if you choose to do so!!!)  Drop me a line if you’re interested in the Hustle this coming year – or just follow the instructions below to register.

Instructions for joining my team will be on my www.ClimbingForKari.org website…  A direct link to the instruction page is HERE  There is a prior year’s step-by-step document on that page, as well as a link to retrieve your prior username and password that will speed your registration.  You can also go to www.LungChicago.org and follow their instructions.  (Make certain you join a team, and select Kari's Klimbers.)

And finally – if this is not your first climb, thank you so much for climbing with me in past years…  I spoke about quitting a few times in the distant past – I’ve had things I wanted to focus on and this takes a lot of thought and energy (so much of which falls on Laura’s back!!!)  But – this is what I do…  And Kari’s friends also let me know that quitting didn’t seem to be an option for me.

I do a fair amount of public speaking about organ donation and about Kari (and now Alex) – so much of what I talk about revolves around my participation in the Hustle – and meeting her friends through the Hustle – and about the people who come out to support me at the Hustle – about YOU  This climb has become part of who I am and what I do – and YOU have helped make it what it is for me…

Some of you have climbed with me for fifteen years – some of you for several years.  Almost every year I meet someone new who Kari grew up with, and they come out to remember her with me.  And for some of you – well, as Carly Rae Jepsen might suggest, I just met you, and this is crazy, but we’re climbing 94 floors soon – join us maybe?!  Through these past sixteen years we’ve raised well over $300,000 together – that freaking blows my mind…  How many times have you been part of a team that has raised that much funding???  I haven’t either.  And this has happened because of so many people like you helping me.  Thank you.  And more special than the money will ever mean to me – you’ve helped me build a little platform to tell the world about Kari, and about Alex, and the gifts they’ve given – and you’ve helped me tell so many others about organ donation.

We’ve had so many organ and tissue recipients, and donor family members, and friends of donors on our team – and when I go places to speak about organ donation, people say, “You’re that guy who climbs 100 story buildings with your new lungs!!!  And so many of them already know Kari’s smile, and her name – and that means everything to me.  I would have never generated that much excitement alone – I would have never generated that much awareness without all of you.

I know that times are a little tough and cash is a little tight for many of us – and if you can’t make it this year, that’s OK – and thank you for the times you have made it.   If you can make it – I’m honored to have you on my team.  (And if you know someone who needs to see this note – please forward it to them, and please send me their email address so that I can get them on the notification roster!)

Love,  Steve

Steve Ferkau
Kari’s Klimbers


Hustle 2018 Registration

Sunday, February 25th, 2018
Registration begins at 8:00am CST on Tuesday, November 1, 2017!!! Please be aware that it used to sell out within about 60 minutes, but the past few years it’s taken days – to play it safe, get there early!

To sign up on my team this year, you will need to start at www.LungChicago.org The link/button for regular Hustle registration will become active at the Respiratory Health Association's site at 8:00am sharp on Wednesday, November 1st… Initially, only my full climb team will be up – I may create a half climb team later in the morning on November 1st, if there are several people who want the half climb.

A .pdf document with detailed instructions prepared by a friend at RHAMC are available HERE… 

Note:  This is a prior year's document -- but it still applies!

You will be able to use your Username and Password from previous Hustle registrations, if you've been on my team before... If you don't remember what your Username and Password are - you may want to check out this link before November 2nd. You can find your Username and/or reset your password by going to this link.

After clicking the button/link for regular Hustle registration available at www.LungChicago.org you will be directed to the Hustle registration page… Choose the “Full Climb” – on the page that follows, take the “Register to join an existing team” choice “Join a Team”… That will take you to a “Search for a Team” page – Enter “Kari” or some part of the “Kari’s Klimbers” team name and click “Search” – when “Kari’s Klimbers” pops up – click “Join this Team”… Then just follow the instructions to complete your registration.

The .pdf document noted above has examples of screen shots and step by step instructions you may find enlightening…

Please note: if you remember your username/password from your last registration - much of your data will be already be completed!

The registration fee is the same price as last year – registration for the full climb is $155.00, the half-climb is $120.00.

If you have any questions, don't hesitate to email me at BreathinSteven@gmail.com

Back to Home Page, Climbing For Kari

Tower Up!!! Sears Tower Climb...

Kari's Klimbers - Willis Tower (seriously, Sears Tower) Climb!!!

We’ve had Kari’s Klimbers teams climbing the Sears Tower (now, Willis Tower) for the past five years. This year the climb is for a Chicago charity – the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago / RIC. I have a young friend who survived a stroke who was cared for and rehabilitated by RIC. She’s climbing with us in November… Information about the climb is available at www.SkyRiseChicago.org

The climb will be on Sunday, November 14th. Registration is $50 – however, there is a $100 pledge minimum. You can either sign-up and immediately pledge yourself $100 (total climb cost $150), or work to get pledges. My understanding is that if you do not have $100 in pledges at some point before the climb – you will not be permitted to climb.

Teams are limited to 10 people this year – I currently have one teams.

Kari’s Klimbers

Join us if you’re interested – click on the links above – on my page, click the “Join Steve's Team” link and follow the registration instructions. If you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact me at BreathinSteven@gmail.com

Go back to Climbing For Kari homepage...

Hustle Announce One

This year's Hustle up the Hancock registration opens on

Monday, November 2 at 8:00am Sharp!!!

The last few years it has sold out in about a half hour -- so be there early!

I will create my team prior to November 2 by pledging to raise $1,000 -- and links to the registration page for my team will be here prior to November 2... However, please do not attempt to register before 8:00am November 2 or you will be pledging to raise $1,000!
Pledging: If you're thinking about pledging me or someone on my team, I love you already... Links to pledge should be available between late October and early November, 2009. You can also feel free to email me via the link below...

You can click here for more Hustle 2010 information.

Or, you can email me should you have any questions...

See you there!!! Love, Steve

Rose Parade Chronology

I was invited to ride on the 2009 Donate Life Float in the Rose Parade!!! I was incredibly honored to have been invited by Gift of Hope in Illinois...

Before I went, and while I was there, I created several posts at our blog, Revive Hope, about my adventure...

Here are links to those posts in somewhat of a chronology:

August 1, 2008 -- Light bulb, light bulb, pearls, pearls...
  • About my invitation to ride the Donate Life Float in the Rose Parade...

October 1, 2008 -- Stars of Life Twinkle (by Melissa...)
  • Among other things, about float rider and heart recipient, Bonnie Lundy...

October 2, 2008 -- Stars of Life Twinkle Part II
  • Among other things, about float rider Steve Ferkau (me)...

November 19, 2008 -- Who are they? (by Melissa...)
  • Melissa's post about the floragraphs honoring donors, that will be riding the float with us...

December 11, 2008 -- Dedications...
  • About the Family Circle Garden and our roses dedicated to Chase, Chloe and Kari...

December 18, 2008 -- What game?
  • A video post, and a regular post, about my seeming lack of understanding about the entire Rose Parade situation...

December 24, 2008 -- Christmas in California (by Melissa...)
  • This is Melissa's thank you for Steve being her "Santa" by placing Chloe's roses in the Familiy Circle Garden...

December 26, 2008 -- Roses and Robbie...
  • Christina helps coordinate rose dedications in the Family Circle Garden - this is about her brother Robbie, who was an organ donor...

December 26, 2008 -- Rose Bowl Tickets!!!
  • Pictures and a video about getting my butt out of a sling...

December 28, 2008 -- We're in Pasadena!!!
  • Arriving in Pasadena -- pictures and videos about our agenda...

December 29, 2008 -- Donate Life Float - Rose Dedications...
  • Pictures, dedications, and videos about placing roses in the Family Circle Garden for Chase, Chloe and Kari...

December 29, 2008 -- Aspirations... And fun...
  • About beating life expectancies, and having fun...

December 31, 2008 -- Dear Steve... (by Melissa...)
  • A little thank you picture from Melissa for placing Chloe's roses...

December 31, 2008 -- Ready to roll... Donate Life Float
  • A few videos and a post about the "Stars of Life Gala" and our dress rehearsal for the float ride...

January 1, 2009 -- I'm on my way...
  • A brief post before I left for the Rose Parade...

January 1, 2009 -- A lot more than I ever imagined...

  • A brief post after the parade - our float won the "Queen's Trophy" and I was a little too tired and overwhelmed to post...

January 4, 2009 -- Donate Life Float - Judging...

  • A fun and late post about Judging on December 31st, with an emotional video of the judging and the lyrics of the song -- "There you'll be..."

January 6, 2009 -- Parade Day!!!

  • A fun and late post with pictures and videos from the float during the parade!

January 8, 2008 -- Taking a breather...

  • A non-post, with a lot of pictures of so many of the people I met and became friends with in the short week of the parade...

January 22, 2008 -- Iowans, and half-Iowans in Pasadena...

  • Some of the special Iowans I met in the time surrounding the parade -- and one who went home and blogged about us meeting...

Pledge Kari's Klimbers Teams or Members

Listed below are members of my 94-floor full-climb and half-climb for the 2008 Hustle up the Hancock!! I have cystic fibrosis and received two beautiful lungs in April, 2000. My team is named after the precious girl who saved my life, Kari, and I do this to honor her, and her family.

Listed below are my friends. Some have climbed several times, others for the first time. Some of them bring life to people like me… Some of them work with people like me… Some of them just hang around people like me… Kari wore #13 on her Algona, Iowa high school volleyball team – some of them were Kari’s teammates…

Pledge full climb team here...

Full climb team members:

Ferkau, Steve Lung Health Champion / Captain

Gulotta, Anne - Donor Family Member Lung Health Champion

Alfred, Larry Full Climb

Allen, John - Double Lung Recipient Full Climb

Baghdassarian, Rima Full Climb

Bailey, Brooke Full Climb

Cahill, Joe Full Climb

Cardin, Felicia Full Climb

Cardin, Mike Full Climb

Cardin, Nick Full Climb

Carsello, Rose Full Climb

Caruso, Timothy Full Climb

Cunningham, Joan Full Climb

Deske, Tom Full Climb

Divis, Wendy - Iowa #8 Full Climb

Eugenio, Amanda Full Climb

Fellner, Reena Full Climb

Ferkau, Karen Full Climb

Fill, Grace Full Climb

Fox, Scott Full Climb

Garcia, Danny Full Climb

Gianfrancisco, Celeste Full Climb

Gianfrancisco, Paul Full Climb

Herdegan, Megan - Double Lung Recipient Full Climb

Hickey, Lauren Full Climb

Hinks, Catherine Full Climb

Huxel, Suzanne Full Climb

Ikens, Laura Full Climb

Ing, Maryann Full Climb

Ing, Troy Full Climb

Insalaco, Frank Full Climb

Johnson, Jennifer Full Climb

Klebacha, Keith Full Climb

Klein, Brett Full Climb

Kozlowski, Lowry Full Climb

Kubancek, Ruth Full Climb

Kubski, Katie Full Climb

Lang, Willa Full Climb

Malone, Brian Full Climb

Malone, Joanne Full Climb

McCarthy, Maureen Full Climb

McNicholas, Susan Full Climb

Miller, Cynthia Full Climb

Mirkovic, Erin Full Climb

Mirkovic, Kyle Full Climb

Mirkovic, Matthew Full Climb

Mirkovic, Srdjan Full Climb

Mrozek, Janet Full Climb

Omdahl, Katie - Iowa #12 Full Climb

Pagano, Peter Full Climb

Redenius, Alex - Iowa #7 Full Climb

Redenius, N. Full Climb

Rink, Paul Full Climb

Robbins, Gabe Full Climb

Ryan, Cheryl Full Climb

Schad, Dale Full Climb

Scheer, Kara Full Climb

Scheer, Kristen Full Climb

Schmidgall, Dave Full Climb

Schmookler, Matthew Full Climb

Schmookler, Stephen Full Climb

schultz, brian Full Climb

Sells, Daniel Full Climb

Sells, Greg Full Climb

Sells, Gregory P Full Climb

Sells, Stephanie Full Climb

Snyder, David Full Climb

Sofere, Joe Full Climb

Sofere, Sandy Full Climb

Sood, Carolyn Full Climb

Sweeney, Carly Full Climb

Tattas, Michael Full Climb

Trenary, Samara - Iowa #3 Full Climb

VanGetson, Cecilia Full Climb

Wagner, Beverly Full Climb

Wenger, Eve Full Climb

Pledge half climb team here...

Half climb team members:

Ferkau, Nancy Half Climb / Captain

Cardin, Mike Half Climb

Freedkin, Aaron Half Climb

Freedkin, Arie Half Climb

Manson, Julia Half Climb

Powell, Chris Half Climb

Schmidgall, Jillian Half Climb

Schmidgall, Lauren Half Climb

Schmidgall, Nancy Half Climb