"As water reflects the face, so one's life reflects the heart" ~Proverbs 27:19

It's Hustle Time!

posted by J. Amendt Eickman on ,


Many of you know about my friend Steve, a man who is unlike any I've ever met. He is truly an inspiration and an amazing man, who breathes because of his hero...and mine, Kari.

This weekend, Steve & 150 other Kari's Klimbers climbed in honor of a beautiful 17-year-old girl who was much wiser than her years. In the 10 years Steve has been climbing he's raised over $250,000 to benefit lung research and through it all, has kept Kari's memory alive.

I will admit, I was a bit sad when I realized I would miss this huge 10 year milestone. I yearned to be with Steve, his family, Kari's family & our friends to celebrate Kari's life. My heart ached a little this weekend, knowing what a celebration I was missing.

Ironically, I found this post from eons ago. I wrote about the 2008 Hustle I was going to miss, and I thought I'd share a bit with y'all today:

Why do I Climb? 
(Nov. 6, 2007)

It was February 2005.  Four friends and I piled and squeezed into a little Volvo to make our first official trip to Hustle up the Hancock. After five excruciating hours, we pulled into the apartment building's turn-a-about shortly after 10:00PM.  Awaiting for us was were two shadowed figures shivering in the dark. 
As we unfolded from the car we were hugged by those two complete strangers. I can't tell you what I was exactly feeling, as I was just so happy to be out of the car, but I do remember having a sense of warmth..and not just from the hugs! :)
***Those two figures were Steve and his wife Laura***
That first visit to Chicago will be one I will forever remember. It was a beginning and an end for me.  I was able to let go of the pain, and able to smile about the old memories and make new ones too!
I've made it an initiative to trek that 300 miles to Chicago every blustery February since...and why? Do I truly enjoy climbing 94 flights of stairs with 3000 people, in a hallway that is only 3 butt's wide?  Do I really enjoy getting up at 5:00am that Sunday morning to wait in line for check in?  Do I honestly love getting climbers cough every year and missing a day or two of work because I get sick every year?  No, not really.  So, why do I climb?......
......I must admit...I have been struggling this past week, as I did not sign up for The Hustle this year.  It was a tough decision (one that was made easier when the site to sign up crashed)!  I remember last year thinking to myself "I'm not sure if I want to climb next year" but in the back of my mind I knew I would. The reasons, do not really matter much, but yet I still struggled, knowing I wasn't going to fulfill the reasons I climb!
After praying long and hard last week I realized that I can rewrite why I climb to:
I do what I do...
- To honor a dear friend's memory  -I don't really need to climb a huge building to honor Kari's memory.  I honor her memory every time I post on RevieHope and every other time I speak about organ donation!
- To feel close to that friend one time each year  -I realized I don't need to hustle up a skyscraper to feel close to her.  It wasn't really ever climbing that made me feel close...it was the memories with you, Steve!
- To honor a new friend, and his dreams  -This was a tough one, because I could sense the disappointment, but I know that if I would have never met you, Steve, I would have never become so passionate about organ donation.  I know that what I do for My Angel Foundation and for IADN honors your dreams, or at least I hope I do!
- To show myself...I really am in good shape  -Well, it looks like Laura (Steve's wife) and I will be signing up for a 10k this summer!
I feel like a lot of what I wrote 5 years ago completely applies to how I felt this Hustle season!

Although I was 800+ miles away, I was there. I was there as Kari's sister, a bunch of her friends & volleyball teammates took on "the Beast." I was there when Steve took his first big breath at the bottom and the big sigh of relief as he crossed the finish line. I was there at the top cheering with Kari's mom, watching what an impact her daughter had, and still has, on this world. 

I was there because I was thinking about each of you that day, and knew that as you crossed that finish line and conquered the Hancock that you all smiled and thought of a girl so loved and remembered by so many.
I am so proud of you Kari's Klimbers!
Peace to you all!

PS. Laura, we never did do a 10k! ;)

Hustle 2007
Kate (my sis), Steve (AKA: Lungs), Devon, & Me


  1. Hey My Beautiful Jenn!!!

    It was an amazing weekend -- only way too short... I had better than 30 people who knew Kari -- friends, classmates, volleyball teammates, several of their mothers, a teacher, a coach, neighbors -- they all drove several hundred miles each -- from Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Kentucky and Illinois... And I get to give them a hug and see them for, like, five minutes... But I think they all know how much they mean to me...

    And Kari's mom, sister, Godmother and cousin were out too!!! I hope that seeing how many people gather to honor the daughter and sister and cousin they love made them feel warm inside... Because, what it's all about for me is that the people who loved her never forget her -- and for people who don't know her, learn about her... You've helped me spread her story so very far -- and you've given me a lot of insight into how special she was... I'll never forget you for that. Thanks,

    Love, Steve