Hustle up the Hancock 2011
Northwestern Memorial Patient and Staff Join Thousands in Annual Respiratory Health Association Event
On Sunday, February 27, more than 4,000 people climbed 94 flights of stairs to the top of the John Hancock building to raise funds for Respiratory Health Association of Chicago. Northwestern Memorial Hospital was represented by a group of 35 employees, clinicians, family and friends who showed their support by making the climb and volunteering at the annual event. Amongst the climbers was also a Northwestern Memorial patient whom a mere six months ago didn’t think climbing 94 flights was possible. Brian Kruser climbed all 1,632 steps just months after undergoing a kidney transplant.
Kruser, who lived with kidney failure most of his life, spent more than three years on the waiting list and a year on dialysis before his transplant in July. “My business partner told me she was doing ‘Hustle up the Hancock’ and I wanted to do it for my dad, who suffers from COPD,” said Kruser, a 23 year-old photographer who lives in Arlington Heights. “If it hadn’t been for the transplant, I could have never done this. I feel the greatest I’ve ever felt; I’ve never been this healthy.”
Like Kruser, many of the clinicians representing Northwestern Memorial were motivated by those affected by lung disease. “Every day I learn so much from the patients we are fortunate to work with,” said Rebekah Worden, clinical research nurse in the thoracic oncology unit, who served as the captain of the hospital’s team. “It was inspiring to see so many people come together to raise money and awareness for their benefit.”
Kruser and his team, “Team Cowalunga,” trained for the event by climbing the stairs at a local hotel over the last few months. He knew he would be able to make the climb, but the actual event was much different than the training. “It was extremely exhilarating and really pumps you up,” he explained. “It was very inspiring to see so many people there to benefit the Respiratory Health Association.”
After years of waiting for his transplant, Kruser understands the challenges that other patients face. Along with his inspiring physical performance, he also offers encouraging words. “It’s very hard waiting for a transplant, but when you get it, it’s a great feeling,” he said. “You get a second chance at life; do the best you can with it.”
According to the Respiratory Health Association, the 14th annual event raised more than $1 million thus far. Northwestern Memorial climbers contributed close to $5,000 to support for lung disease research, advocacy and education.
For the physicians who treat patients with lung disease, supporting the Respiratory Health Association is a cause near and dear to their hearts. “It’s a great sight to see so many people come together for such an important cause,” said Jyoti Patel, MD, an oncologist at Northwestern Memorial who specializes in the treatment of lung cancer. “The Respiratory Health Association’s commitment to research and finding new treatments for lung disease helps me provide the best possible care for my patients each and every day. I’m happy to be a part of this event and helping to raise awareness for lung disease and support the association’s mission.”