Approximately 2,000 participants — including current and former patients and their families, friends, and Shirley Ryan AbilityLab staff, researchers and clinical teams — will climb to the 103rd floor. At the top, from the Willis Tower’s Skydeck Chicago, participants will have the opportunity to enjoy extraordinary views extending four states and 50 miles away. To accommodate participants with differing abilities, entrants can choose to climb the stairs or hand-cycle on stationary machines that are calibrated for resistance and time to match the stair-climbing experience.
Among this year’s participants is Andy McCue, a 60-year-old father, husband and lawyer from Kansas City, Mo. On July 1, 2018, everything changed when Andy fell down a flight of stairs in a freak accident that left him paralyzed due to a severe spinal cord injury.
He arrived at Shirley Ryan AbilityLab with no guarantee that he would walk or be independent again. Additionally, he experienced extreme arm and hand weakness requiring someone to complete all activities of daily living for him, including eating, grooming, bathing and dressing.
Andy underwent intensive physical and occupational therapy at Shirley Ryan AbilityLab and made significant gains. Despite his very uncertain prognosis, he walked out of the hospital upon discharge and could complete almost all activities of daily living on his own or with minimal assistance.
Then, six months after his injury, he experienced his biggest milestone yet: walking his daughter down the aisle at her wedding.
“SkyRise Chicago presents a special opportunity to celebrate patient victories and, importantly, ability,” said Joanne C. Smith, M.D., Shirley Ryan AbilityLab president and CEO. “The event demonstrates what is possible when science and clinical care come together to benefit our patients.”
In addition to Andy McCue, the event will host other notable climbers and hand cyclists, including three members of the U.S. Para 7-a-side National Soccer Team and three gold medalists from the U.S. National Sled Hockey Team. Brody Roybal, two-time Paralympic gold medalist in sled hockey, who was born without femurs in either leg, again will climb the Willis Tower using his hands.
All funds raised from SkyRise Chicago support Shirley Ryan AbilityLab’s quality clinical care and cutting-edge research that advance ability for nearly 55,000 adults and children around the world every year. As a non-profit organization, the hospital’s work is supported by fundraising events such as SkyRise, which raised more than $1 million in 2018.
“For more than a decade, the Willis Tower has served as a dramatic backdrop for the thousands of participants who demonstrate what the human spirit can achieve with the help of the nation’s top rehabilitation research hospital,” said Randy Stancik, general manager, Skydeck Chicago. “We’re excited to host this incredible event for another year, supporting the great work and talented staff of Shirley Ryan AbilityLab.”
One of the tallest buildings in the Western Hemisphere, Willis Tower opened in 1973 and has hosted SkyRise since the event’s inaugural year, 2009. Skydeck Chicago, located on the skyscraper’s 103rd floor, attracts up to 1.7 million visitors annually. At 1,353 feet up, The Ledge’s glass boxes extend 4.3 feet from the Skydeck.
About Shirley Ryan AbilityLab
Shirley Ryan AbilityLab, formerly the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (RIC), is the global leader in physical medicine and rehabilitation for adults and children with the most severe, complex conditions — from traumatic brain and spinal cord injury to stroke, amputation and cancer-related impairment. The organization expands and accelerates leadership in the field that began at RIC in 1953. The quality of its care and research has led to the designation of “No. 1 Rehabilitation Hospital in America” by U.S. News & World Report every year since 1991. Upon opening in March 2017, the $550 million, 1.2-million-square-foot Shirley Ryan AbilityLab became the first-ever translational research hospital in which clinicians, scientists, innovators and technologists work together in the same space, surrounding patients, discovering new approaches and applying (or “translating”) research real time. This unique model enables patients to have 24/7 access to the brightest minds, the latest research and the best opportunity for recovery. For more information, go to www.sralab.org.