CHICAGO (CBS) — Thousands of people were sore Sunday evening, but it was all for a good cause.

As CBS 2’s Mai Martinez reports, 4,000 climbers took part in the 15th annual Hustle up the Hancock at the John Hancock Center, raising awareness and more $1 million dollars today for lung disease research and programs.

Many say they climb for those who can’t.

Climbing the 94 flights of stairs is a daunting task. But thousands of people tackled the task Sunday with smiles on their faces and a spring in their step.

“We’re hustling up for my mom and some others,” said Megan Chody.

Like many others, Chody lost a loved one to lung cancer. Raising awareness about the disease and money to fight it motivate her.

Adam Tarantur and his sister Erica share that motivation. They lost their mother to lung cancer in 2007.

Their team, Rockin’ Robin, is named for her. In the past eight years, members have raised $285,000 for lung disease research and programs, more that 34,000 of that this year alone.

“She is very much a part of our team,” said Adam Tarantur. “We know that she’s very happy that we’re continuing to raise awareness for the cause and for the Respiratory Health Association.”

“Every day of my life I think about her, and she inspires me every day,” added Erica Tarantur. “This is one other aspect of that.”

Of course, the climb is also a competition.

“It hurt so bad,” said Justin Stewart of Springfield, who came in first overall at 9 minutes, 45 seconds. “It was my first time doing this race. It was awesome.”

But even the winners say the cause is what motivates them.

“It makes you feel like you’re helping out someone else while doing something fun for yourself,” said Kristen Frey, 28, of Schaumburg, who came in first for the women at 10 minutes and 57 seconds.

For some climbers, including double lung transplant recipient, Steven Krupowicz, just finishing all 94 flights is prize enough.

“It’s for others, and for me to know that I can do it,” he said. “Before my lung transplant I couldn’t climb one staircase to get to my bedroom.

That was four years ago. But now, Krupowicz can’t imagine stopping until there’s a cure for Cystic Fibrosis and other lung diseases.

”As long as I’m still standing, I’m going to do it every year,” he said.

CBS 2 was a proud sponsor of the event. Thirty-seven members of the CBS 2 family took to the stairs for the cause – among them Derrick Young and Susan Carlson.

They talked about how they prepared to climb 94 flights of stairs, and why the cause is so important.

“Running stairs, I’ve been running the treadmill, incline; I’ve been psychologically trying to visualize it and see myself making it to the top,” Young said.

“My grandpa died of lung cancer. My dad has COPD, so I kept thinking about them,” Carlson said. “It’s a challenge, but it’s nothing compared to the challenges that they go through, and that’s the motivation.”

The full climb is a total of 1,632 steps. The half climb has 862.

Over the past 15 years, Hustle up the Hancock has raised more than $9 million to support the Respiratory Health Association’s local lung disease research and programs.

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