On Sunday, Nov. 7, Shirley Ryan AbilityLab (formerly Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago) and Skydeck Chicago hosted the 13th annual SkyRise Chicago at Willis Tower. This year’s event included both in-person participation in the world’s tallest indoor stair-climbing event, as well as a virtual option for participants running, stepping, and cycling in their communities in support of the top-ranked rehabilitation research hospital.

During the event, hundreds of participants — including current and former patients and their families, friends, and Shirley Ryan AbilityLab staff, researchers, and clinical teams — climbed up to the 103rd floor. At the top, from the Willis Tower’s newly transformed Skydeck Chicago, participants had the opportunity to enjoy extraordinary views spanning four states and up to 50 miles. To accommodate participants with differing abilities, entrants could choose to climb the stairs or hand-cycle on stationary machines that were calibrated for resistance and time to match the stair-climbing experience. 

Among this year’s participants is Chase Olson, a husband, father of two young children, and firefighter who, in the summer of 2020, fell more than 25 feet when performing house maintenance. Chase sustained a traumatic brain injury and, after spending time in the ICU, shifted his focus to rehabilitation and meeting his two biggest goals: getting back to being an active dad, and getting back to the job. Over the next several months, he engaged in intensive inpatient and outpatient therapy at Shirley Ryan AbilityLab. Now, just over a year later, he has met both goals and continues to hit new milestones, including climbing the Willis Tower Nov. 7.

“SkyRise Chicago is an inspiring event where hundreds of people come together to support patients and celebrate their victories,” says Peggy Kirk, RN, Shirley Ryan AbilityLab president and CEO. “We’re excited to be back in person this year, and to have a front row seat as many patient participants accomplish feats they once thought unimaginable.”

All funds raised from SkyRise Chicago support Shirley Ryan AbilityLab’s quality clinical care and cutting-edge research that advance ability for more than 50,000 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 raise millions of dollars in support of patients’ recoveries every year.

“The Willis Tower and Skydeck are honored to host SkyRise Chicago and support Shirley Ryan AbilityLab for the thirteenth year in a row,” says Randy Stancik, general manager, Skydeck Chicago. “This year, we’re excited for participants to enjoy our transformed Skydeck experience and new interactive museum, which were unveiled this past spring after an extensive redevelopment.”

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. 

[Source: Shirley Ryan AbilityLab]