Step by step, Zac Vawterclimbed Chicago’s iconic Willis Tower. From ground level, he walked each of the 2,109 steps up to the 103rd floor as part of the 2012 SkyRise Chicago Fundraiser. It was doubtful whether Zac would be able to make the climb but Zac refused to accept that. He wanted to give “it a go” and see what his body could do. But there, 53 minutes and 9 seconds after taking the first step, Zac stood at the SkyDeck overlooking Chicago.
The climb was a monumental moment for Zac and the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (RIC) team. Zac made the entire trek with the “world’s first neural-controlled bionic leg.” Zac thinks about going somewhere and the prosthetic receives a signal to move. Scientists had worked with this technology in arms and fingers, but never before in a leg.
The annual event features individuals from around the world running up the Willis Tower, the world’s highest indoor, urban stair climb, to raise funds and awareness for the RIC. Zac, a former marathoner himself had been running since he was young. A motorcycle accident three years ago changed all of that when his leg was amputated following the wreck. It was a no-brain decision for him to volunteer to be the team’s guinea pig at RIC for this new technology.
The phrase “Don’t give up!” rang throughout the tower by the runners and onlookers. It seems as with groups like RIC refusing to give up, there exist some incredible opportunities for current and future amputees to regain somewhat normal movement again. Pretty incredible.