MAYWOOD, Ill. – Before his double lung transplant, just getting dressed in the morning was like running a 200-yard dash for cystic fibrosis patient Sean Sullivan. Now, Mr. Sullivan is planning to climb 94 stories in the Feb. 28 Hustle up the Hancock fundraiser.
“Getting to the top would be a great way to honor my donor and their selfless gift,” said Mr. Sullivan, 41, who lives in Olympia Fields and works in his family’s business.
Mr. Sullivan is among 20 members of Loyola’s Hustle up the Hancock team, called Loyola’s Lung Angels. The team includes patients, family members, doctors, nurses and dietitians. Some plan to do the half climb (54 stories) while others plan to make it all the way to the top of the John Hancock Center, a total of 1,632 steps.
It is difficult for a person with normal lung function to comprehend how debilitating advanced lung disease is, said Daniel Dilling, MD, Loyola’s medical director of Lung Transplantation. Patients typically are on supplemental oxygen 24 hours a day, and even simple tasks such as brushing their teeth leave them exhausted. “Climbing up the Hancock Center illustrates how a determined patient, with a strong support team, can make a complete turnaround,” Dr. Dilling said.
Cystic fibrosis patient Chris Pry, 35, will be doing his second Hustle up the Hancock. He did his first climb in 2015, five months after his double lung transplant. It took him 1 hour, 14 minutes.
“It was tough going up, but there’s nothing like the feeling of being on the top,” said Mr. Pry, a physical therapy aide who lives in Crystal Lake.
This year, Mr. Pry is working hard to get his time down to under one hour. His training regimen includes doing squats, working out on a stair stepper and walking around all day with a three-pound weight on each ankle.
“The patients who are doing this climb embody what it means to take charge of their health and well-being,” said Jennifer Johnson, RN, Loyola’s lung procurement coordinator. “It’s been a joy to see their transformation from feeling so desperately ill to charging up the stairs for a good cause.”
Hustle up the Hancock is the Respiratory Health Association’s major fundraising event. It’s expected to raise more than $1.1 million to promote healthy lungs and fight lung disease.
Loyola has performed more than 800 lung transplants, by far the most of any center in Illinois. Last year, Loyola performed more lung transplants than the three other Illinois lung transplant programs combined. In May, 2014, Loyola became the only center in Illinois to perform five lung transplants in just over 24 hours.