CHICAGO | It took a skiing accident in 2003 for Sarah Ridder, of Crete, to learn she has interstitial pulmonary fibrosis, or IPF, a chronic disease that leads to the hardening and blackening of the lungs.
It was a revelation for Ridder, 40, who used to smoke and had earlier been diagnosed with emphysema. The exact cause of IPF is unknown, but genetics are sometimes a factor and in Ridder's case, that is true.
In the last nine years, seven more members of Ridder's family have been diagnosed with IPF, for which there is no cure. Of the eight total, five, including her father, have died from it and it is in their honor that Ridder participated in the Hustle Up the Hancock on Sunday in downtown Chicago.
She ran up 94 floors of the Hancock to raise funds for the Respiratory Health Association's research on lung disease. Sarah and her brother, John, are two members of the family who are getting a second chance.
In 2006, just two and a half months apart, they each received a new set of lungs. Before the surgery, John had 48 percent lung capacity while Sarah only had 34 percent.
They received the lung transplants at Loyola Medical Center in Maywood, where Ridder learned about Loyola's Lung Angels, a team of physicians, nurses, patients and family members connected to Loyola and touched by lung disease. Ridder is a member of their Hustle team.
"I'm really excited to participate in Hustle because Respiratory Health Association is so committed to all lung diseases," she said in a prepared statement before the event. "They not only raise awareness for idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, but also lung cancer, respiratory syncytial (RSV) and other lung diseases."
Sarah, who has been smoke-free since May 2003, committed to raising $1,000. More than 4,000 people participated and were expected to raise $1 million for lung disease research.
"Now that I have a second chance at life, I do everything all or nothing," Ridder said. "I chose to climb the full climb — 1,632 stairs — because every step I take will be for someone I know who has been affected by lung disease. I get to keep fighting now not only for my family, but for everyone else, too."