Shirley Ryan AbilityLab to Host Ninth Annual SkyRise Chicago

Thursday, November 2, 2017 General News
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2,000 to participate in world's tallest indoor stair-climbing event at Willis Tower in support of advancing human ability

CHICAGO, Nov. 2, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- On Sunday, Nov. 5, the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab

(formerly Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago) will host SkyRise Chicago at Willis Tower for the ninth consecutive year.

Approximately 2,000 participants — including current and former patients and their families, friends, and Shirley Ryan AbilityLab staff, research and clinical teams — will climb 2,109 stairs (103 floors). At the top, participants will have the opportunity to enjoy extraordinary views of up to 50 miles and four states at the Willis Tower's Skydeck Chicago. To accommodate participants with differing abilities, entrants can choose to climb the stairs or use upper-body strength and hand cycle on stationary machines calibrated for resistance and time to match the stair-climbing experience. 

Among this year's participants is Cole Thomas. In September 2016, following a car accident, Cole issued a plea via video on Facebook. He was told he would never walk again, a fate the young father couldn't accept. The video went viral and was viewed 16 million times. The outreach led Cole to the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab, and this past spring, following months of intensive therapy, he walked out of the facility on his own. Cole will commemorate his journey by climbing the Willis Tower and hand cycling the equivalent, an ambitious goal attempted by very few participants.

SkyRise Chicago 2017 will also welcome former Senator Mark Kirk, who is climbing for the sixth time. Senator Kirk was a patient at Shirley Ryan AbilityLab in 2012 after experiencing a stroke. With the support of doctors, therapists and researchers, he regained the ability to walk, talk and return to work on Capitol Hill.

"SkyRise Chicago enables our patients to put their abilities on full display and to celebrate strengths and achievements alongside their family, friends, clinical care and research teams," said Joanne C. Smith, M.D., Shirley Ryan AbilityLab president and CEO. "This year's event is particularly celebratory as it follows the March opening of our $550 million, 1.2-million-square-foot Shirley Ryan AbilityLab, the first-ever 'translational' research hospital. Our novel model of care will lead to better, faster outcomes for patients, a cause that SkyRise makes highly visible."

All funds raised from SkyRise Chicago support the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab's quality clinical care and cutting-edge research that advance ability for nearly 60,000 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 last year alone.

"We're proud that Willis Tower, one of Chicago's most iconic buildings, will serve as the backdrop for many incredible memories among Shirley Ryan AbilityLab patients, families and staff," said Randy Stancik, general manager, Skydeck Chicago. "Skydeck Chicago offers a dramatic finish line for those climbing their way to the top of Willis Tower. We look forward to hosting this extraordinary event for another year."

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 more than 1.7 million visitors annually. At 1,353 feet up, The Ledge's glass boxes extend out 4.3 feet from the Skydeck.

For more information about SkyRise Chicago, visit the event's website or find the event on Facebook. For more information about Skydeck Chicago, visit the website.

About the Shirley Ryan AbilityLabThe 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 Shirley Ryan AbilityLab expands and accelerates leadership in the field that began at RIC in 1953 — its care and research designated the "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. Applied research focuses particularly in the areas of neuroscience, bionic medicine, musculoskeletal medicine and technology transfer. This unique model enables patients to have 24/7 access to the brightest minds, the latest research and the best opportunity for recovery. Recent honors for the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab include the American Institute of Architects Chicago Distinguished Building Award (2017), the Chicago Innovation Awards (2017), the International Interior Design Award (2017) and the Modern Healthcare Design Award (2017). For more information, go to 

About Willis TowerStanding 1,450 feet and 110 stories tall at 233 S. Wacker Drive, Willis Tower offers more than 4.5 million square feet of premiere office, retail and entertainment space. Debuted in September 1973 as the Sears Tower, today more than 100 prominent businesses call Willis Tower home, including financial services, law firms and insurance companies. America's iconic skyscraper is centrally situated between the city's financial and cultural hubs and the dynamic West Loop, home to some of the Windy City's top shops and restaurants. Boasting spectacular Chicago and Lake Michigan views reaching nearly 50 miles on a clear day, the 103rd floor Skydeck Chicago is the highest observation deck in the United States. Featuring The Ledge, a first-of-its kind attraction that extends four glass viewing boxes beyond the structure itself to create an unforgettable viewing experience, Willis Tower attracts more than 1.6 million visitors per year. For more information, please visit /


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