Father of 2 offers inspiration at Empire State Building Run Up

Amy Freeze has one man's inspiring story in the annual Empire State Building runup
February 9, 2014 6:52:58 AM PST
Several hundred people partake every year in the Big Apple version of climbing a mountain.

Last Wednesday was the 36th annual Empire State Building Run Up.

Rob Powers, Marci Gonzales and our own Amy Freeze represented WABC and ABC News. But it was a New York City father of two who provided some of the inspiration.

Bill McHugh was getting a life-saving bone marrow transplant one year ago this week. And while he was treated, people he knew were climbing to the rescue of cancer patients just like him.

A year later, he was among the climbers. And he won the spirit award from MMRF, the team Eyewitness News ran with.

"Here he is, not a year later, taking on this incredible challenge," MMRF team coach Tom Holland said. "He's that healthy, a result of how tough he is, a result of the great work the Multiple Myeloma (Research Foundation) has done for research."

But it wasn't an easy path for McHugh.

"The first couple days I walked up the steps of my building, we've got 16 flights," he said. "I would get to the top, and I would have to stretch, catch my breath."

As he got stronger and healthier, Bill could not help but sign on for the ESB Run Up -- 86 flights straight to the top. At the same time, he raised awareness for the hair loss that comes with his disease, he trained and even sent out a worldwide challenge for those willing to take it -- A week without an elevator.

"I'm in a full remission," he said. "I just had my bloodwork done two days ago, and I'm in a full remission. I'm doing this because I can, and they can't."

Bill's climb began with a single step, something Holland says people can do for their own personal fitness, or even sign on to make a huge impact for cancer research

"The Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation is in the top 1 percent of charities, as designated by a charity navigator," he said. "We have raised, since 1998, almost a quarter of a billion dollars and fast-tracked six drugs. That's amazing."

Bill McHugh made it to the top, but the biggest headline is that the MMRF raised $750,000 for cancer research.

"It's opened my eyes as to what I really can do, just one year after the transplant," he said. "If I can do something to raise money to find a cure, that's my goal. And I'm going to have that happen in my lifetime."