Glenview physician joins Kari’s Klimbers up the Hancock
Steven Ferkau of Chicago, a double lung transplant receiver, participated in the Hustle Up The Hancock event on Sunday, Feb. 24, 2013. | Ryan Pagelow~Sun-Times Media
HUSTLE FOR LIFE
WHAT: Hustle Up the Hancock
WHY: Raise money, awareness for respiratory heath
Updated: April 1, 2013 6:39AM
GLENVIEW — When Dinesh Shah’s niece told him last year about “Hustle Up the Hancock”, the 94-floor climb to the top of that Chicago architectural landmark, he was intrigued. The Glenview resident and physician was also disappointed; he’d missed the chance to take part.
This year, though, niece Krishna Patel of Skokie signed both she and her uncle up to be part of Chicago resident Steve Ferkau’s 120-strong Hustle team. Bright and early Sunday morning the two joined a river of climbers toiling to the 94th floor of the Hancock. Shah, resting up after the Feb. 24 challenge, estimated he made it in about 33 minutes, while his niece beat him handily by hitting the top in about 24 minutes.
In completing their climbs, Shah, Patel and other members of “Kari’s Klimbers” helped Ferkau raise money for the Respiratory Health Association, while also raising the public’s awareness of the need for life-saving organ transplants.
Ferkau’s team name commemorates Kari Westberg, the 17-year-old Iowa teen whose lungs, donated to Ferkau 13 years ago following her fatal aneurysm, saved his life when his own lungs, destroyed by cystic fibrosis, failed him.
In 2003 Ferkau made his first Hustle climb to honor Kari; the next year he assembled a team, and the group has steadily grown since then. It includes many of Kari’s friends. Ferkau said Feb. 22 that the climb represents a chance for many of them to get together and renew their friendships while honoring their friend.
Their annual stairwell trek has raised almost $300,000 for the Respiratory Health Association. Ferkau has also become an advocate for Gift of Hope and Donate Life Illinois to educate others about the importance of joining the state donor registry.
Shah was unfamiliar with Ferkau’s story when he joined the team, but Patel had heard about it from the co-worker who first told her about the annual challenge.
“I was fascinated by Steve’s story, and how he wanted to keep Kari’s memory alive,” she said Feb. 24. “This was a challenge, and it was for something good,” she said.
Shah was also glad to have taken part: “I was happy, it was definitely a good feeling to do this.”
Patel, who admitted to being a couch potato, said she made it to the top by not setting too fast a pace. The first 30 and the last five floors were the hardest, she said. Patel, an actuary, also avoided looking at the floor numbers while she walked, in order not to become discouraged.
Shah, an occasional jogger who also walks for exercise several times a week, had a unique training regimen; he traveled up and down the stairs in his two-story Glenview home 50 times at a crack.
“I thought I should be able to make it up,” he said. “It was a nice experience.”
Although this year’s Hustle is over, people can still donate to Kari’s Klimbers, and the Respiratory Health Association, by visiting www.lungchicago.org.