Man Climbs 103 Floor Skyscraper With Bionic Leg
Despite having lost his right leg in a motorcycle accident, Software Engineer Zac Vawter stepped his way into the record books Sunday.
As part of a charitable event in support of the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago's Center for Bionic Medicine, Vawter put on a special mechanical leg that responds to impulses from his hamstring muscles, and walked up 103 stories of Chicago's famous Willis Tower. In fact, Vawter's daunting climb was the first to be performed by anyone with the ground-breaking device, and the first public test of the leg, developed by the Center, according to lead researcher Levi Hargrove.
Basically, Vawter thinks "climb", and the leg does the rest of the work, just like his regular, left leg does on a regular basis.
Today's climb, called "SkyRise Chicago," is a fundraiser for the Institute, and Vawter took part in it alongside 2,700 others climbing the skyscraper's stairwells. Here's video of Vawter preparing for the event.
"A lot of people say that losing a leg is like losing a loved one," said Vawter. "You go through a grieving process. You and establish a new normal in your life and move on. Today was a big event. It's just neat to be a part of the research and be a part of RIC."
Now that Vawter has completed his record-breaking climb up one of the world's tallest skyscrapers, he will return home to Yelm, Washington — without the bionic leg. Researchers will keep the leg and continue refining its gears and electronics. The leg and other limbs like it are still years away from widespread use.
"Somewhere down the road, it will benefit me and I hope it will benefit a lot of other people as well," Vawter said about the research at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago.