Looking down over the edge of the Wells Fargo Capitol Center, it’s easy to get a little nervous— especially if you are in a harness preparing to rappel off the side. The breeze kisses your face, the rope rests firmly in your grasp, and in 30 stories, your feet eventually plant firmly on the ground. You have conquered the challenge, and maybe in turn have come to understand a small portion of what it’s like for others who face daily challenges in their lives.
On September 30, participants will rappel off of the Wells Fargo Capitol Center in a fundraiser for Special Olympics North Carolina, providing continuing opportunities for adults and children with intellectual disabilities. The event, Over the Edge, has more than doubled in turnout since its inception eight years ago.
“It’s our most unique event,” said Leslie Moyar, Director of Development for NC Law Enforcement Torch Run. “Our goal is to have 200 people go over the edge. Some people have a lot of experience; some have never touched a harness.”
For those who have never touched a harness, or may see the task at hand daunting, there is now a way to get familiar with rappelling.
When Joel Graybeal heard that former East Cary Middle School’s principal, Dr. Kerry Chisnall, wished he had a place to practice for his rappel in 2012, a lightbulb went off in his head. Why not run a training event at Triangle Rock Club? It seemed like the perfect fit.
Triangle Rock Club (TRC) is an indoor mountain climber’s dream. Colorful handles of different sizes line the walls, covered in powder from previous ascents. Ropes dangle over blue padded floors. And, in the back room, a belay ledge allows for rappel practice.
“We simulate a shorter version of the rappel with the same equipment,” says Graybeal, Managing Partner at TRC. “We have an opportunity to use our facility in creative ways to help others.”
With no other easy way for Over the Edge participants to get accustomed to the equipment, Graybeal shows pride in coaching everyone through the process, though the extent of the coaching varies from participant to participant. “We’ve never not succeeded in getting someone to participate,” he adds.
With approximately 160,000 visitors to Triangle Rock Club’s Wake County facilities, the Triangle boasts a large climbing community. Along with helping Over the Edge, TRC has also raised more than $130,000 for the Durham Ronald McDonald House through climb-a-thons.
“We want to use our facility to change people’s lives,” he says. “You’ll notice not one person in here is wearing headphones. We want to create an environment that is interactive, supportive and engaging.”
This same attitude is also exhibited through Special Olympics NC. Athletes are never asked to pay a fee to participate in Special Olympics programming, so athletes have access for free, allowing them to show their skills, develop friendships and experience joy through sport.
“Fundraising events like Over the Edge are very important because they allow us to continue using the power of sports to transform the lives of people with intellectual disabilities,” says Moyar.
It Takes a Village
Over the Edge does not happen without the support of the community. The Wells Fargo Capitol Center provides the use of its building for three days, from set up through the event day. WRAL sends a team member over the edge, promoting coverage of the event. This year spectators can watch meteorologist Aimee Wilmoth tackle the rappel. And Café Carolina runs a cookie donation drive prior to the event, raising anywhere between $20,000 to $27,000 during the six-week promotion in its stores. They also play host to spectators and participants, feeding staff and providing water. You can visit sonc.net for a full list of sponsors.
Things to Know
Where: Wells Fargo Capitol Center, 150 Fayetteville Street, Raleigh
When: September 30, 2017
How to participate: Raise $1,000 for SONC
Fun fact: You can rappel in pairs! Ropes are side by side, so conquer this challenge with a friend!