Rappellers take big leap to help Special Olympics

Stepping backward off a 30-story building for fun and a good cause; rappelling to publicize a fundraiser for Special Olympics Oklahoma.
BY DAVID ZIZZO Modified: October 14, 2010 at 2:09 pm •  Published: October 14, 2010

I'm standing on the ledge of a building downtown, my back toward the open air, which is the only thing between me and the design on the plaza below that, from 30 floors up, looks suspiciously like a target.

"Lean back," Brian says.

Sure, why not? That's why I'm here.

I'm rappelling down the SandRidge Building in Oklahoma City for a good cause. Because it's a blast. And, oh yeah, to help publicize an event that benefits Special Olympics Oklahoma. Today, more than two dozen other people, each of whom raised at least $1,200 in donations for the organization, will get to do the same thing. About the same number of people will rappel down the Hard Rock Hotel in Tulsa.

Over The Edge, a Canadian company that helps people who know nothing about rappelling do it off large buildings, was conducting this event. "They've done this event with other Special Olympics programs throughout the country," said Derek Cain, development director of Special Olympics Oklahoma. "They had some very successful events so we decided to try it here in Oklahoma."

Dangling 300 feet up

A few participants made large donations themselves to be included in the event, which raised $88,000. But most did it the old-fashioned way, collecting from co-workers, family and "BFFs."

"Most people are using their social networks to get to that level," Cain said.

As a member of the media, my contribution to the Special Olympics consisted of showing up. It's a beautiful day, and I'm not passing up an opportunity to dangle more than 300 feet above solid concrete from a building on the same day an earthquake shook buildings in Oklahoma. Besides, after the first 40 feet or so, it doesn't matter how high you are. If you fall, you get the same result.