The Willis Tower is the tallest building in the U.S. and is the 9th tallest building in the world. So what would an adventurous girl (that would be me) do knowing that the building can be climbed via the stairs? She (again, me) would climb it, of course. The fact that each climber climbing for Skyrise Chicago 2012 must raise money toward The Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (RIC) made me want to do it again next year as I didn’t raise as much money as I wanted to this year. As I write this, I feel like a complete loser as I’m watching the news about an 8 year old boy who raised $15,000.00 toward epilepsy to raise awareness for a 4 year old boy who died from it. Boy, I suck. I love life, though, because it gives you perspective as well as inspiration. The next time I want/need to raise money, I will absolutely think of this little boy who kicked my ass at fundraising.
When I started the climb, I was glad that I had the experience from another stair climb a few years back at the Hancock. Back then, after a few flights, I didn’t think I could finish as the somewhat narrow stairs combined with the spiraling effect of them made me want to just quit immediately. I finished in 22 minutes back then so today’s 103 flights of stairs shouldn’t be a problem, especially since I knew what to expect. But upon entering the stairs, I was choked up with tears as I saw an older man who was severely impaired, leaning against another, hoisting his way up the never ending climb. I was taken aback and had to slow down to catch a different kind of breath. I honestly could not imagine how a man in his condition could climb 2,100 steps, but he helped me continue on as my awareness of my good health motivated me upward. Then I thought about the man with the bionic leg who was climbing the stairs as well. He was in the news this week as this was the first attempt of its kind. I wondered if he was ahead of me or behind me. Again, I was motivated to continue the stairs without stopping at all since I have no excuse as I’m completely healthy with all my limbs intact. After 33 floors, I had a sip of water but without stopping. I know that when you stop, its harder to get started sometimes. There’s also that brief moment when you don’t want to continue as it feels so good to breathe normally without any discomfort on your body. So I did not dare stop. Somehow floors 34 through 66 seemed easier but with much more sweat. The entire railing was completely, disgustingly wet, and I couldn’t wait to finish climbing so I could use the hand sanitizer! I was fueled with energy when I saw others, especially the ones who started before me as well as much younger than me, stop and take a break. Yes, I’m competitive like that. And when I got to the last 3 or 4 floors, I wanted to sprint upward but was slowed down by others who wouldn’t let me pass as there were a few too many people on both sides of the stairs. As I took the last step out onto the cheering crowd, I finished in 29 minutes and 37 seconds. It felt good to have some air and water as well as the view of the gorgeous city of Chicago. It felt better, though, knowing that I contributed, along with at least 2,200 others, to help raise money for RIC.
The project cost $8 million,
funded by the U.S. DOD.