Saturday, November 28, 2015

SkyRise Chicago 2015...

Things have been so busy since I did the SkyRise Chicago climb, but I wanted to share with everyone about the experience.  It was such a humbling experience for me and I had many emotions to process through before the climb and afterwards.

A few weeks before the climb, I was contacted by the PR woman in charge of creating buzz for the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago.  She wanted to share mine and Juli's story with the media.  I was a bit surprised, because if you know anything about the RIC, they are the nations #1 rehab hospital for people who have been in bad accidents, had strokes, amputees, paralysis, multiple sclerosis, and the list goes on.  When we go for Juli's appointments, I am always humbled by the patients we see and meet, it really puts Juli's issues into perspective.  We emailed back and forth, while I answered questions about Juli, her doctor, and myself.  As we got closer to the climb, I did a phone interview with her, and she let us know that we would be paired up with a media personality the day of the climb so that they could get to know a patient before they climbed (there was a challenge that went out to the media, which included a trophy to the personality who climbed the fastest).  The Friday before the climb the RIC released a statement about the climb and some of the people who were climbing, we were included.
Early morning arrival
The day of the climb, we were instructed to arrive at 8 AM to meet up with our media personality.  Juli and I were assigned Jason Thomas of WXRT-FM.  He was a nice man, told me he had ridden his bike to the Willis Tower that morning as his "warm up".  He shared with me about his little one at home and how much he likes being a dad.  We talked for a little while longer, and then it was time to do "pictures with all the media" and then they were off on their climb.  Jason ended up winning the challenge, climbing to the top in under 18 minutes (crazy!).
Doing "press"

She had to do a "selfie" for her webpage- she's on WGN Radio
I didn't climb until 9:30.  I failed to mention that that morning I had woken up with a terrible head cold and was extremely stuffed up.  I hoped my nose spray would keep my nose clear until I got to the top, but by the time I was close to the stairway opening, I knew that was a pipe dream, lol.  I started the climb, slow and steady.  It was 103 flights, so I knew enough to not run up the stairs.  There were a ton of people on the stairs which made it difficult to pass the slower climbers.  As I finished the 2nd floor, I passed a man who was being helped up the stairs with a "gait belt" and had an entire team of people behind him.  Each step for him was a struggle but he was determined.  I told him he was doing a great job as I passed him, and he thanked me and asked me who Juli was (I was wearing a shirt I had made for Juli).  I told him she was my daughter and a patient at the RIC.  He wished me well and I wished him well and continued to climb.  By the time I reached the 33rd floor, my nose was blocked up totally and I began to question how smart I was to do this with a head cold.  Then I passed a woman who was climbing with an implant in her leg that was stimulating her leg muscle to work.  We encouraged each other and I continued to climb.  By the time I got to the 95th floor, I was sweaty, breathless and struggling.  They had volunteers on each floor encouraging us, so I picked up my pace.  My goal had been to climb in under 45 minutes, but I crossed the line at 48 minutes.  I think if I had been healthy I would have been able to make my goal.

The back of my t-shirt
Since Juli and I had "done press", Ryan, Noah and Juli were given VIP status and allowed to meet me at the top.  Noah and Juli were given finisher medals, and a representative from the RIC recognized us from the morning press shoot and ushered us to one of the ledges to take our picture as a family.  One of the best feelings in the world was receiving my finisher medal from an RIC patient at the top and hearing Juli tell me how proud she was of me.

Trying not to look too tired or sick
Taken by the photographer for the RIC
Thank you to everyone who supported our family for this climb.  To those of you who donated, I know that the RIC will be helping more families by building a new facility.  They have helped Juli so much in the 5 years we have been going there.

In my next post, I will tell you about George Watson and the amazing Watson family that stayed with us for the climb.