On Wednesday, a group of runners selected by lottery will square off in the 2016 Empire State Building Run-Up, racing 86 stories and 1,050 feet into the New York skyline. One of the participants is a New Jersey resident who also happens to be impacting children's lives every day at a well-known organization.

Photo courtesy Empire State Building

"They're the ones who inspire me, not so much the other way around," said Steve Clayton, an Ocean Township resident. "I mean, hopefully I'm inspiring them, but they're really the ones inspiring me. It's just really amazing."

Several years ago, Clayton left a lucrative job in the financial sector to embark on a career of putting others first and helping improve their lives. He now has a leadership role with the Boys & Girls Club of Newark, a job he said has been tremendously rewarding.

"I've been so inspired by (the kids)," he said. "I just wanted to do something big and grandiose, and that's what I came up with, was the Empire State Building."

Clayton was already an experienced runner, having completed five prior marathons and 26 half-marathons, but working at the Boys & Girls Club has played a physical part in preparing him for Wednesday's race.

"We're two floor levels, so I've been doing the steps on my lunch break, and just getting a good workout there," Clayton said. "This is definitely a challenge. It's 1,576 steps."

Another New Jerseyan invited to compete in the Run-Up on Wednesday is 61-year-old Mark Greenlee of Plainfield, who finished second in the 60-69 age group last year.

Patrick Lavery is New Jersey 101.5's evening news anchor. The longest distance he has ever run without stopping is one mile, senior year of high school. Follow him on Twitter @plavery1015, email patrick.lavery@townsquaremedia.com, and listen for his live reports Monday through Thursday nights between 6:30 and 11 p.m.

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