Kari’s Klimbers Get Ready to Rock the Hancock!

I initially came across my buddy Steve Ferkau after reading an article about Steve’s annual participation in Chicago’s Hustle up the Hancock – an event that draws more than 4,000 people to climb 1,030 feet to the top of the Hancock Observatory in an effort to raise funds for lung research, advocacy and education. Steve, a double-lung transplant recipient himself who suffered from cystic fibrosis for 40 years, is a huge proponent for organ donation, contributes regularly over at Revive Hope and is constantly out and about in the community sharing his personal story and spreading the word about the importance of organ donation.

Last week, Steve sent out an email below about his Hustle up the Hancock team, Kari’s Klimbers, aptly named in honor of his donor, Kari Westberg. In the past five years, Kari’s Klimbers have raised over $150,000 in support of the Respiratory Health Association of Metropolitan Chicago. Steve has already surpassed his fundraising goal of $15,000 this year with over 207 donors…wow.

It’s an impressive feat pulled off each year by Steve and his team both in terms of fundraising and calling attention to the issue. We’ll be sure to post a recap from the event, which takes place this Sunday, Feb. 24. Go get ’em!

A message from Steve:

This is my sixth year doing the Hustle – this is my fifth team tagging along with me. I have 85 amazing people; friends from work, people who have taken care of me, friends from Iowa Donor Network and Gift of Hope, friends from life – and some very special friends who understand organ donation more than many.

I have people climbing who bring this gift of life to others – and a lady who has helped give life to others – and friends of the girl who saved my life. Annie Gulotta has climbed with me three times – her husband Jay became an organ donor almost six years ago. And this year I’m climbing with 12, 8, 7, 3 and 2 – Kari was a star middle-hitter on her Algona Iowa High School volleyball team. Kari wore number 13. Five of her volleyball teammates are coming out to climb with me!

I climb to tell people about the magic of organ donation, and about heroes in my life… I climb to help people understand how very special organ donors and their families (and friends) are. I know several people who are very precious to me waiting for lungs – several people who need someone like Kari and Jay in their lives… I climb because of them.

Most of all – I climb to honor the beautiful girl who saved my life… I also do this to honor her Mom and Dad, and her Sister and Brother-in-law and all of the precious friends who surrounded her and loved her, and who she loved. And, can you imagine what it feels like to be surrounded by Kari’s friends?!?!

Because of so many of you, my teams have raised over $150,000 in the past six years. We’ve helped so many people… And something so very special to me: you’ve helped me tell people about my hero, Kari Westberg.

Ironically, I’ve never focused on fundraising when I’ve done these events – but it always seems to happen. If you have a few bucks burning a hole in your pocket, I or anyone on my team would love a pledge… But more than anything, I’d love it if you check my little website and read about the beautiful girl, and all of the people surrounding me who have allowed me to leap tall buildings…

To see my website about Kari and our climb, go to http://www.climbingforkari.org/

To see my Hustle page, click here…

To see my Revive Hope posts about Annie, Kari’s friends, and some of the special people climbing with me – and about what these climbs mean to me – click here…

To see all of the members of my 2008 Hustle team, click here…

And finally – please consider organ donation, 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.



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One Response to Kari’s Klimbers Get Ready to Rock the Hancock!

  1. BreathinSteven says:

    Hey Scott!!!

    Thanks so much for posting this – thanks for highlighting my cause (OK, our cause!)

    I’m pretty dang excited about this – I have four of Kari’s precious friends joining me… Two of them have climbed with me before, and it will be the first time meeting the other two…

    And I’m also excited about a newspaper article that is coming out around Kari’s hometown, Algona – I’ll let you know about that – but it’s going to be in the Algona Upper Des Moines paper published on Thursday, February 21… The reporter interviewed Kari’s Mom, Lisa, and Wendy – one of Kari’s volleyball teammates coming out… And it was picked up by their “mother” paper and will appear in several dailies in Iowa and Nebraska and that region… And, Comcast is sending out a crew specifically to cover Kari’s Klimbers!!! (A follow-up to a very cool half-hour show they did on us three years ago…)

    Thanks for posting my letter – and the picture of me holding Kari’s picture – and most of all, thanks for helping me tell people about Kari…



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