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

There’s a few flights of stairs leading up to the courtyard of our building.  I remember the few years I waited - before receiving Kari’s beautiful gift - on the infrequent occasions where we would walk over to Blackie’s for breakfast, walking back, toting my oxygen, coming up to those stairs - it sometimes felt like I was coming up to Mount Everest.  I would take 2-3 steps, then rest a few or several minutes, then take 2-3 more - slowly - until we got to the top.  Sometimes we would dodge them, going into the garage to take the elevator one floor to the courtyard level.  To dodge a few flights of stairs.

Now I climb 94 floors to the top of the Hancock with many of you.  I’m not going to say it’s easy - but ya know what??? - I don’t struggle as much climbing 94 floors as I did when I climbed those few flights 19 years ago.  Because of a beautiful girl from Iowa named Kari.  And because of so many people like you - being crazy enough to step into the stairwells on a Sunday morning in February to climb those 94 floors

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.

2019 will be my 17th climb – And it will be the 16th time our Kari’s Klimbers have taken the stairs 94 floors, 1,632 steps to the top of the (former) John Hancock Center for the Respiratory Health Association of Metropolitan Chicago.  “John Hancock Center” is undergoing a name change - therefore our climb is shortening to “Hustle Chicago”!  I’m certain the shorter name will make the climb feel shorter!  (Laura will confirm I’m not the sharpest tool in the shed...)

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, 2018 – Sunday, February 25, 2018.   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 places now.  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 Thursday, 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