Posted: October 1, 2021 / 5:43 AM EDT / Updated: October 1, 2021 / 6:10 AM EDT
SYRACUSE, NY (WSYR-TV) – It’s an uphill battle to push back cancer. Local nonprofit On My Team16 (OMT16) is literally taking up that challenge by bringing Central New York together to support children battling cancer.
After going virtually last year, The Climb will once again take place at the State Tower Building, the tallest building in Syracuse, on Saturday, November 20.
The event is OMT16’s largest fundraiser, raising money to help families and children with childhood cancer.
The Climb is also a way to honor those who have lost their lives to cancer.
It is a climb of 338 steps, up 20 flights of stairs.
This year there is a new element, the Carry A Kid program.
20 VIP climbers can apply to be matched with an OMT16 child who has battled cancer, who has battled and defeated cancer, or who has unfortunately lost the battle.
“We hope they keep in touch and just keep each other updated on what’s going on, how the treatments are going,” said Jordan Zapisek, founder of OMT16.
All the money the VIP climbers raise goes directly to the child they are climbing for.
[To] really give them that hope that yes all these people are climbing for us but this person in particular is really focused on us and our family.
Jordan Zapisek – founder, in my team16
These 20 climbers carry a backpack with a key ring with the name of the child they are linked to, and symbolically carry them up the stairs. If the child is still battling cancer, they put some special, meaningful items of theirs in the backpack.
Because last year’s event was virtual, Zapisek says the organization has significantly fewer donations.
The Climb is their biggest fundraiser event. She hopes it will get them back on track to support OMT16’s annual efforts to help local families.
Money aside, Zapisek says The Climb is a symbolic event to show support for our youngest warriors fighting the toughest battles.
After dealing with the pandemic, this year’s event will be even more meaningful.
“To stand on the floor and look, wow, I’m really not the only one. This community is here, they’re just not in the hospital where I’m being treated, but they’re here to support me,” Zapisek said. “You see children in wheelchairs, you see children with walkers because they have lost all their muscles. Those kind of things. So it really puts it in perspective.”
Registration is $50 until November 1, then goes up to $60.
Each year, nearly 16,000 children under the age of 18 are diagnosed with cancer.