Nearly 3,000 Expected to Climb Willis Tower for the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago

SkyRise Chicago Marks Seventh-Annual Stair-Climb Event

Nov 06, 2015, 09:04 ET from Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago

CHICAGO, Nov. 6, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- When Cameron Zick went hiking with friends last May, he couldn't have known the adventure would lead to a serious fall in which he would break his neck. After a harrowing 20 hours on the mountain, Cameron was rescued and immediately sent to surgery. He was quickly diagnosed as an incomplete quadriplegic spinal cord injury and wasn't sure if he would ever hike again. In just over five months at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (RIC), Cameron is not only living on his own but able to go on light jogs. And, as a rehabilitation goal, he plans to climb the same mountain where his accident occurred.  

On Sunday, Nov. 8, Cameron will climb the 103 stories of Willis Tower during SkyRise Chicago to raise money for RIC and the team he credits with helping him relearn to walk.

For the seventh consecutive year, nearly 3,000 participants will climb 2,109 steps to Skydeck Chicago at the top of Willis Tower. To accommodate the 40 people who either can't make the climb or prefer to use their upper-body strength, participants have the option to hand-cycle the equivalent on stationary machines calibrated for resistance and time to match the stair-climbing experience. That makes SkyRise Chicago the only stair climbing event in Chicago that gives all abilities the chance to participate through this hand cycling alternative.

"Every day at RIC, I am inspired by the remarkable strides our patients make, the dedicated work our clinical care teams deliver and the innovative research from our scientists and engineers," said Joanne C. Smith, M.D., RIC president and CEO. "SkyRise Chicago gives our community the opportunity to applaud these achievements, and cheer on our patients to new victories."

As the leading rehabilitation hospital in America, RIC delivers quality clinical care and cutting-edge research to more than 50,000 patients from around the world. As a non-profit organization, RIC's work is supported by fundraising events like SkyRise Chicago – last year, it raised more than one  million dollars.

SkyRise Chicago participants include a range of former and current RIC patients, their doctors and therapists, friends, family and community members. Along with Cameron, other patients climbing or hand cycling this year include:

  • Tom Huene (Arlington Heights, Ill.): In 2010, Tom had surgery to remove a spinal cord tumor that left him paralyzed below the chest. He has since been involved with RIC through multiple research studies and the Adaptive Sports and Fitness Program. In fact, he has won multiple national Paralympic medals in track and field. Tom credits RIC for helping him to regain both his physical and mental health, giving him the energy and spirit to give fully as a father, husband, coach and athlete.
  • Jenna Mahlberg (Plainfield, Ill.): Jenna climbs in honor of her 6-year-old daughter Juliana, who has been a patient at RIC for five years. When Juliana struggled with many difficulties during the first few months of her life, Jenna turned to RIC to find answers and a solution. The determined doctors at RIC were able to give Juliana her first diagnosis – Developmental Coordination Disorder. Jenna herself is the survivor of a traumatic brain injury.
  • Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.): Climbing for his fourth consecutive year, Sen. Kirk relearned how to walk at RIC after suffering a massive stroke in 2012. Joining him for the climb will be his "Battle Buddies" – a support group the senator created for those who are disabled or have experienced health setbacks – and members of the Falling Forward Foundation, a support group for patients recovering from severe medical issues.

After crossing the finish line at Skydeck Chicago, participants can venture out over The Ledge – four glass-bottomed, enclosed balconies that extend 4.3 feet outside the building and 1,353 feet high above Chicago's streets. Here, as many as four different states can be seen on a clear day. Willis Tower first opened in 1973 and has hosted SkyRise since its inaugural year in 2009.

"Every day of the year, Willis Tower is visited by tens of thousands of people, but there's something extra special about the participants and volunteers that fill our building for SkyRise Chicago," said Randy Stancik, General Manager, Skydeck Chicago. "There's no better way to showcase the culmination of so much hard work, from people of all walks of life, than at one of Chicago's most iconic buildings."

For more information about SkyRise Chicago, visit or find the event on Facebook.

About The Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago
The Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (RIC) is the nation's leading provider of comprehensive physical medicine and rehabilitation care to patients from around the world. Founded in 1954, RIC has been designated the "No. 1 Rehabilitation Hospital in America" by U.S. News & World Report every year since 1991. RIC sets the standard of care in the post-acute market through its innovative applied research and discovery programs, particularly in the areas of neuroscience, bionic medicine, musculoskeletal medicine and technology transfer. RIC's new, 1.2 million-square-foot research hospital – The Ability Institute of RIC – will open in early 2017 to support a fully integrated model of care with scientists, engineers and device developers working together in the same space as patients and clinicians. For more information, go to


SOURCE Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago