Monday, August 27, 2012

I Went Over the Edge

Posted By on Mon, Aug 27, 2012 at 5:11 PM

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This past Friday I rappelled down the city’s 24-story iBank Tower, testing my faith and conquering my fear of heights.

I participated in media day for “Over the Edge.” This is the third year for the event, which is sponsored by Special Olympics Tennessee, a nonprofit that helps thousands of children and adults with disabilities improve their physical fitness and sports skills, enhancing their self-confidence and social competency in the process.

To participate in the actual event, which was held the following day, a person must have raised a minimum of $1,000, been at least 18-years-old, and weighed no more than 300 pounds. The money raised will benefit the more than 16,000 athletes who participate with Special Olympics Tennessee.

Other media figures that participated on Friday included Tom Dees and Greg Cory from FOX 13, Carries Anderson from Action News 5, Eli Savoie from Sports 56, and David Basham from ESPN.

When I left the Memphis Flyer headquarters around 12:30 p.m. Friday, I was unsure of how everything was going to turn out.

I had already watched a video of people rappelling down the building the night before, but I wasn’t convinced that it was something for me to try out.

My drive to the tower was an interesting one.

I prayed and meditated on life and prayed some more. I asked the Lord to give me strength, courage, confidence, and most of all, to keep me safe and sound.

Pulling into the iBank parking lot, I noticed an area that was blocked off. People stood inside it with bright-colored shirts and smiles across their faces as music played.

This eased my anxiety a little.

I saw my coworker, Sloane Taylor, who volunteers for Special Olympics Memphis. She greeted me with a big smile, assured me that everything would be fine, and walked me over to a table where I signed my “life away” on a sheet that basically said I couldn’t blame anyone if I fell to my death.

Fortunately, this didn’t stop me. I knew God was with me and that was all that mattered.

A lady helped me put on the appropriate gear for the expedition: a full-body industrial harness equipped with gloves, a walkie-talkie, and a teal-colored helmet with the words “Over the Edge” in the middle.

After I was suited and booted, a gentleman provided me and two ladies with a brief training session on rappelling and how to use an industrial descender—the gadget used to go down the wall—before we practiced rappeling down a 15-foot wall. I learned by squeezing the decender’s handle, I could accelerate downward. Letting go of the handle stopped me completely.

When I finished my practice trial, I was guided to the elevators inside of the tower.

It was time to tackle the 200-plus foot building.

The ride to the 24th floor was real slow and quiet. I thought about my last chance to change my mind and chicken out. I couldn’t find it in me to do so, however. I had come too far. There was no turning back.

When I stepped off the elevator, I was guided to the roof. The view was both amazing and scary.

I looked on as a couple people stood on the edge of the tower before disappearing down the wall.

My palms begin to sweat.

While I sat and waited for my turn, I prayed one more time. I was even provided some encouraging words from a man with the DeSoto County SWAT team, who was helping participants get situated before they rappelled down the wall.

He calmly recited the verse from the book of Matthew to me that says, “With faith the size of a mustard seed you can move mountains.” He then told me that this was a test of faith and that I had nothing to worry about.

This placed me at ease.

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From that point on, I knew that I was no longer worried about my safety. I knew that I would be alright. I knew that I would successfully rappel down a 24-story building with no problem.

The hardest part for me was getting over the actual edge of the roof. Everything after that wasn’t so bad.

I kept a steady pace while traveling down the wall. I never looked down.

I heard cheers from the crowd below as I traveled story to story, stopping ever so often to catch my breath and get a better grip on the rope.

It took me about 10 minutes to get to the bottom.

When I finished, I was extremely fatigued, and my maroon shirt was drenched with sweat. Rappelling didn’t appear to be so intense, but it indeed was a real workout.

I felt great that I faced my fears and rappelled down the building. Prior to participating in the event, I wasn’t too thrilled about heights. I’m still not head over heels about them, but rappelling down a 24-story building definitely contributed to me becoming more comfortable when I’m high up in the air. Who knows? Maybe I’ll try skydiving one day.

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