Rick Burd and his son, Justin, during this year’s Hustle Chicago. Burd is the captain of the High Steppers.

Palatine resident Rick Burd has been hustling for quite some time. Ten years ago, he was encouraged by one of his sons, Justin, to join him in a charity stair climb to raise money for the Respiratory Health Association (RHA). The annual event, then known as “Hustle Up the Hancock” and in recent years renamed “Hustle Chicago,” is the largest annual fundraiser for RHA whose mission is to support those struggling with breathing disorders (COPD, cystic fibrosis, asthma, other lung diseases, and now, long Covid) and to promote healthy lungs and fight lung disease through research, advocacy, and education.

The recent Hustle Chicago was Burd’s 10th climb up the 94-floor iconic Hancock building in Chicago as a way to give back and support RHA’s efforts. The team, known as the High Steppers, are friends and colleagues of Burd and his son who believe in this great cause and want to make this collective effort.

Team High Steppers dedicated their climb in honor of longtime Chicagoland theater leader, actor and director Frank Roberts, who passed away last fall after his battle with pancreatic cancer. Roberts was the theatrical magician for over 30 years bringing magic to the stage and entertaining audiences across Chicagoland. It was always his dream to one year join this climb to support RHA.

This year’s High Steppers team was made up of 26 members, ages 10 to 74, from: Palatine, Arlington Heights, Buffalo Grove, Rolling Meadows, Lake Zurich, Cary, Long Grove, Ingleside, Elk Grove Village, Frankfort, Bensenville, Naperville, Prospect Heights, and Chicago. Ten members were participating for the first time while others have climbed in previous years ranging from 2 to 10 years.

Training for this event ranged from workouts on stair-stepper machines and treadmills to fitness centers and other training facilities. Interval training focused on cardio preparation was especially beneficial.

Burd’s role as captain of the climb team included recruiting members to participate, promoting the importance of reaching out with fundraising efforts, and creating a sense of team enthusiasm for being part of this event. Through their collective efforts and Burd’s leadership, not only did they all complete the 94-floor climb, High Steppers is fifth out of 113 teams in funds raised bringing in over $13,000 to support RHA.  

This year’s Hustle Chicago was surrounded by excitement as the event returned for the first time since 2020 to the (formerly Hancock) 94 floor building.

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