MOUNT GREENWOOD — Steve Coyne frequently takes on challenges two steps at a time.
The 43-year-old Chicago Police officer will take this same approach as he climbs 180 flights of stairs at One World Trade Center on May 17.
Coyne, a Mount Greenwood resident, will be among 1,000 people climbing to the 90th floor of New York's signature building as part of a first-ever charity race.
He's hoping to raise $911 to offset the cost of the race as well as provide a donation to the organizers.
"This many years later, it is still surreal," said Coyne, a 17-year veteran of the Chicago Police Department.
Howard Ludwig says Coyne visited Ground Zero:
Coyne first visited the site of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in February 2002. He met with several New York and Port Authority police officers and still remembers the burned-out cars he saw in the parking garages surrounding Ground Zero.
"You can plan and train for anything, but you never really know what is going to happen," Coyne said.
This time, he'll return to NYC to raise money for injured military veterans. The Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation and the Captain Billy Burke Foundation have teamed to coordinate the inaugural stair climb.
Proceeds from the fundraiser will support military service members who've been catastrophically injured and help educate children who've lost a parent. The money also will help build 200 new homes for veterans with the worst disabilities — mostly triple or quadruple amputees.
This is hardly Coyne's first stair climb. He's participated in more than a dozen local races as well as stair-climbs in Dallas, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Oklahoma City, Charlotte, NC and Buffalo, N.Y.
In some races, he competes in police full gear, including his uniform, gun and belt. However, he'll likely just wear a Chicago Police T-shirt for the upcoming race in New York as even iPods and cellphones are restricted for security reasons, Coyne said.
Coyne, a Beverly native, was bitten by the stair-climbing bug in 2012. He often trains at Swallow Cliff, a former toboggan slide in suburban Palos Park that has become a popular spot for exercise enthusiasts determined to take on the stairs left behind.
He's noticed health benefits along the way too. Coyne, a patrolman in the Englewood District, said he's at his ideal weight of 215 pounds. He expects to complete the NYC stair climb in 20 minutes.
"You've got to pace yourself," he said.
There's a $100 entry fee to participate in the race at One World Trade Center. Climbers must also raise $250 for a donation to the charity. Then, there's the cost of airfare, hotel and incidentals.
Coyne believes the $911 he's targeted with his GoFundMe campaign will cover all his costs. He promises to kick back anything he raises beyond his target to the charity as well.
Coyne also plays the bagpipes. He's been a member of the Chicago Police Department's Bagpipes & Drums of the Emerald Society since 2011, though he's played the instrument for 13 years.
He's brought his bagpipes to other stair-climb events and entertained the crowd before and after events. He still hasn't decided if he'll bring his instrument to NYC next month.
"We always joke that the next time I do a stair climb I'll wear a kilt, but the guy behind me wouldn't appreciate it," Coyne said.
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