Race goes vertical to raise money for cancer research

By Maria Alvarez Newsday

The new 4 World Trade Center

The new 4 World Trade Center

For the first time, the public will get a chance to run or walk to the 72nd floor of 4 World Trade Center for a panoramic view of New York Harbor and the city skyline while raising money for cancer research.

“It will be like any other road race except we will be blasting to the top of 4 World Trade Center,” said Lorraine Egan, president and chief executive of the Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation. The nonprofit hopes to enlist 1,000 stair climbers to raise $100,000 at the April event. Entry fee is $40 and climbers are expected to raise at least $72 each — $1 per floor.

The money will be awarded to young cancer researchers, said Egan, who explained that all of the money will go to research.

The money raised will be awarded to select scientists who “show phenomenal brilliance and have a potential breakthrough in cancer research,” Egan said.

This is the first time a charity has been permitted to use 4 WTC, which opened in November. Its top floors haven’t been leased.

Silverstein Properties, which built and owns the building, has been renting out top-floor space at $50,000 a day for television and movie productions as well as high-fashion photo shoots, commercials and A-list cocktail parties. The company waived its fee for the charity event.

The building’s lower floors have been leased by the Port Authority and by the City of New York, which are building their office space.

For the public, “this is an opportunity you won’t be able to do a year from now,” said Dara McQuillan, a Silverstein spokesman. He said they expect to have the top floors leased by then.

Cancer survivor Larissa Garbade, 24, of Manhattan, said she was excited about the event. She said she missed the summer fundraising race through Yankee Stadium because she was recovering from thyroid cancer treatment.

She said running up 4 WTC has additional significance.

“On 9/11 my dad worked downtown, and back then we didn’t have cellphones, so it was a long time before we knew if he was OK,” she said, adding that several friends in Short Hills, N.J., lost parents in the collapse of the Twin Towers.

“I remember my mother took us to the top of a hill, where we could see the smoldering smoke above the city. I will never forget that day,” she said. “Getting to the top of 4 World Trade will be an incredible experience.”

The race is scheduled for April 3 and registration is now open.

Some stair climbers will have the option of taking an elevator to the top floor, or stopping at the 54th floor and riding to the top by elevator, said Egan, who expects the fastest stair climbers to sprint to the 72nd floor in less than 15 minutes.

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