The first climb is the steepest!

Help Me Hustle!Yesterday I did my first practice climb for the 2008 Hustle up the Hancock.  It went really well, considering I hadn’t climbed stairs like that since last year’s event. 

When I did my first practice climb last year, I could barely finish 20 floors.  My face was hot, my head was spinning and my legs were on fire.  This year I finished 37 floors easily.  I felt pretty good the whole time and even feel fine today.  I don’t know if that means I’m in better shape this year, but needless to say I’m encouraged!

The Hustle up the Hancock event is exactly a month away today.  I can scarcely believe it’s coming up so quickly, but I think I’ll be ready.  I have another practice climb scheduled for tomorrow and I plan on doing all 50 floors of this building.  By next week I’ll be doing this building twice — 100 floors.

I don’t know what took me so long to start my training.  It’s a huge challenge, and I guess I just wanted to be completely ready — physically and mentally. 

I’m excited about this year’s event because we have a lot of people from my department climbing.  At last count there are 8 members of our staff making the climb.  We train together, encourage each other and kick each other in the butt when we slack off.  It’s working really well and we’re all going to be very successful.

Money-wise, I’m doing well but I still need help!  So far I’ve raised $630 and my goal is $1,500.  So if you saw my initial post about the Hustle, but couldn’t make a donation yet, hopefully you can help out now.  It’s easy to do, and every penny goes to the Respiratory Health Association of Metropolitan Chicago to help fight, prevent, and support those with lung disease; so every penny is well-spent.

Finally, a BIG thank you to those of you who have already contributed… I owe you all big hugs!

Gregg Vanicek
Scott Goldner
Jason Ott
Fine Point Face Painting
Jamie Guajardo
Quenten Schumacher
David Long
Jeff Kosin
Brian Kowalski
Stephen Murphy
Cliff Dix
Tom Myles
Barbara Drumm
Maia Wright
Ricardo Torres
Eric Boberg

Wanna smoke? Take it outside!

On January 1st, Illinois finally caught up with most of the rest of the states with major metropolitan areas and enacted its statewide smoking ban in most public places, including bars, restaurants, and other public places.  Called the “Smoke Free Illinois Act,” this act trumped the act voted upon by Chicago’s city council in 2005, which was to go into full effect by July of 2008.  Therefore, all public places in the city of Chicago and elsewhere in Illinois went smoke free as of New Year’s Day.


As an ardent non-smoker, whose mother is afflicted with lung disease caused by smoking, and who has seen plenty of other loved ones, friends and acquaintances deal with the effects of cigarette smoking and second-hand smoke; I could not be happier.

Gone are the days of smoky bars and clubs and coming home with my clothes and hair reeking of tar and nicotine.

Gone are the days of coughing and wheezing while someone next to me or behind me blows their cancerous fumes in my direction.

Gone are the days of a thick, hazy film hanging in the air as soon as I walk in the door, holding my breath to sustain the glorious fresh air I just came from.

No laments, no regrets.  Those days are over.  Smokers, take it outside.

Naturally, of course, some people feel their rights are being violated.  They believe they have a right to do whatever they want, wherever they want, and a law telling them otherwise violates their own personal freedoms.

I say– OK, I see your point, but my rights are equally being violated by your continued presence in these (formerly) smoky, hazy dens.  My right to have healthy lungs, for instance.  My right to breathe clean, fresh air.  My right to live a longer life and not be afflicted with aggravated asthma or emphysema, or even worse, lung cancer.

You can continue to ruin your lungs all you want.  You just have to step outside to do it, preferably about 15 feet away from any entrance.

So, in my view, your rights aren’t being all that affected.  You can continue to do what you want.  You just have to do it somewhere else, while I enjoy the air you left behind. Seems fair to me.

The other side of the argument was in the eyes of the bar and restaurant owners, who feared they would lose business due to the smoking ban.

To those concerned business owners, I say:

FEAR NOT!  For the people will continue to drink.  They will continue to eat.  They will continue to socialize and mingle and enjoy the atmosphere your establishment has provided in the past.  Certainly, your fears were valid before the ban went into effect– if you had gone smoke-free then, chances were they would find another place where they could smoke.  But that isn’t the case anymore.  EVERYTHING is smoke-free now.  So the choice now is to either stay at home or go out and smoke outside.  I think the choice will be fairly simple.

After all, if they can handle doing it in Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, DC, Hawaii, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, Utah and Washington (source), they can certainly handle doing it in Illinois.

Help Me Hustle!

There are, however, millions out there already afflicted with lung disease; and there will be many more.  And while I’m sounding rather snarky here about the smoking ban; the fact is that those afflicted need all the help they can get to live better lives. 

So that’s why I’m climbing to the top of the John Hancock building on February 24.  If you have a few Christmas pennies to spare, help me make my goal of $1,500 by donating to my climb.  I’ve already raised an awesome $630- 42% of my goal.  And that’s all thanks to your generous donations.  The money raised goes to the Respiratory Health Association of Greater Chicago to help fight lung disease and treat those with lung ailments such as asthma, emphysema and lung cancer.  If you can, help.  It will make the new year that much happier!

Help me Hustle — AGAIN!

As you may recall, last year I participated in the Hustle up the Hancock, a fundraising event for what was then called the American Lung Association of Greater Chicago, but is now named the Respiratory Health Association of Metropolitan Chicago (RHAMC). The premise of the event is to climb to the top of the John Hancock Center— all 1,632 stairs; all 95 floors.This was the first time I had ever done anything like this, and truth be told, I barely made it– but I did make it. It was an incredible feeling to accomplish that goal.

Help Me Hustle!So I am happy to tell you that on February 24, 2008, I will be participating in the 11th Annual Hustle Up the Hancock event to help raise money for lung disease research and education.

I will join thousands of others throughout the Chicago land area to raise funds for Respiratory Health Association of Metropolitan Chicago (RHAMC) as we aim to promote healthy lungs and fight lung disease. You may think that it’s crazy to climb the John Hancock Center but I am doing so because I am able. I can breathe freely, and there are many people who are not as lucky as I.

People like my mom.

My mom was diagnosed with Emphysema in 1995, and has had Asthma for most of her life. For the last 12 years, I have seen the toll that this disease has taken on her life and her well-being. While she is still able to get around and live her life, the disease is slowly robbing her of her ability to do the very things that she has enjoyed all of her life. As each year passes, it gets harder and harder for her to perform simple tasks– from walking from her car to a store, to even taking a shower.

I also suffer from Asthma symptoms, and am a prime candidate for the disease, since it runs in my family. (My grandma also had Emphysema and Asthma.)

With your support, people like my mom can be helped. Your assistance will allow RHAMC fund research and support lung disease research and programs for people with lung disease.

Please click the link below to go to my personal donation website, and make a contribution. Any amount is accepted– and every amount is appreciated.

Last year, with your support, I raised $1,165.00. I am hoping to top this by raising $1,500 this year – maybe even $2,000!  Every penny goes to the RHAMC, and every penny is well-spent.

Rick Aiello’s Personal Fundraising Site

I will be updating my progress, again, right here on the Launching Pad.  Click here to see how I did last year.

Thank you for your help… and wish me luck!