CHICAGO (CBS) — One week from Sunday, thousands of people will climb to the top of the John Hancock Center to raise money for the Respiratory Health Association of Metropolitan Chicago.

As CBS 2’s Susan Carlson reports, among those who will be participating in the CBS 2 Half Climb are students, parents and teachers from a brand new magnet elementary school in Chicago. Preparing for the event is teaching them valuable lessons they can’t learn from a school or bank.

Gym teacher Amy Heveran is coaching her students in climbing up stairs at STEM Magnet Academy, 1522 W. Fillmore St.

But the students were not in gym class. In fact, it wasn’t even time for the starting bell at the school. The early risers have been training twice a week for the Hustle up the Hancock.

“Having them, the ability to be physically active with their parents, with our staff and students, and support a community organization like Respiratory Health – I thought it would be a great opportunity and get them more active,” Heveran said.

But even Heveran admits she was surprised that 41 people signed up for her team, including about a dozen students in grades kindergarten to 3rd.

When Susan asked how many stairs one young student, Angelina Amoruso, had done that day, she replied: “I really don’t know.”

Another young student, Jackson Harper, added, “It was like too much stairs, but you have to do it because it’s like you can get stronger and stronger.”

Hevean says the training is paying off.

“We’ve had 5 or 6 training sessions already, and I can already see the students improving in their form of running and in their pacing,” Heveran said.

The students agree their performance is improving.

“At first I got really tired really fast,” said Kai Ramirez. “Now I could do more without taking breaks.”

Jeneen Lomax is the mother of a student at the school, and the Hustle up the Hancock holds a special meaning for her.

“It’s particularly close to my heart, because I have asthma,” Lomax said.

Lomax knew she couldn’t participate herself, but that is not stopping her 8-year-old son, Nasir.

“I thought I was going to do it, and I was going to work really hard to support my mom and her asthma,” he said.

On the day of the climb, Nasir said he will be thinking of “pushing my mom to climb the stairs.”

“I’m proud of him, and I’m forever grateful that he’s determined to do this,” Lomax said.

STEM Academy has already raised over $7,000, making it one of the top fundraising teams so far this year.

You can still register to join Susan, and Derrick Young, for the CBS 2 Half Climb. You can also join the full climb as a lung health companion. For more information, click here.

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