Over the Edge technician Tim White prepares the ropes for the rappelling
Going Over The Edge
By Philip Rykwalder
It isn’t every day that you can walk around downtown Nashville and see people rappelling down the glass sides of the skyscrapers. The Nashville City Center Building was the scene of such a sight for two days earlier this fall. Special Olympics rewards donors who raise more than $1,000 with an adrenaline-filled rappel down the face of a skyscraper in major cities all over the United States. The Nashville event included a 380′ rappel and took place in September 2011.
Special Olympics contracts a Canadian company, Over the Edge, to supply both the ropes and the expertise needed to make the events happen. The company has a team of vertical rope experts who travel all around the United States putting on these events for non-profits. Started in 2003, the company has a goal of helping organizations raise over $50 million in the next ten years with their unforgettable events.
Donor dressed as a lawyer prepares to rappel the 380′ down the building
Over The Edge reports that each event generates over $55,000 on average for the sponsor organization. The top fund raiser in Nashville this year generated over $6,000 for Special Olympics. On the day of the rappel, the donors are fitted in harnesses and given a short instruction on how to use the equipment. After a short ‘bunny slope’ rappel off the scaffolding on the building’s roof and a final check up by the Over the Edge technicians, the fund raisers went over the edge. As they rappelled down the glass face of the skyscraper, office workers got into the action and posted witty signs in their windows to greet the rappellers such as ‘you’re almost there’ or ‘don’t look down now.’
Each Over the Edge event is assisted by teams of volunteers with experience in ropes and work at dizzying heights. Principally they are cave explorers who use the same knots and gear to penetrate the depths of caves. The cavers provide much of the manpower to help make the events go safely and smoothly. Nashvillian Chrissy Richards said that her rope experience and skills “were invaluable to the success of this event.” For cavers it was a smooth transition from caving to skyscraper rappelling. The event even used the same gear that Richards uses on-rope in caves, which made her feel comfortable assisting the donors. When asked about her favorite part of the day she responded, “helping people over the edge. Getting them there made my day.”
Caver and volunteer Chrissy Richards rappels down the building
Over 35 rappels took place including one by Gnash, the Nashville Predator’s mascot. One donor rappelled in a Spiderman costume, and another like a lawyer, complete with three piece suit and attaché case.
Interested in a downtown rappel in 2012? Contact Special Olympics and find out how you can take part in the epic at-home adventure!