United Way of Southeast Missouri is going “Over the Edge” on May 17 for the area’s first ever urban rappelling event. The local nonprofit has set an ambitious goal, hoping the event will raise $50,000 to help the citizens of Southeast Missouri, while challenging new volunteers and donors to give or go.
In partnership with Southeast Missouri State University, United Way invites the community to watch thrill-seeking “Edgers” rappel down Towers South, a 147-foot residence hall located on the university’s campus. While the Edgers chase the adrenaline rush, spectators on the ground below can enjoy yard games, refreshments and music during this all-day community event.
Anyone interested in descending Towers South is encouraged to go Over the Edge; no previous experience is necessary. Requirements include weighing between 100-300 pounds, and a minimum age of 14 is recommended with a parent or guardian present. Each Edger must raise $1,000 by May 17 to rappel.
Daring participants can register individually or by forming teams of 6 and raising a collective $6,000. Edgers jump-start their fundraising when they register via the Over the Edge online platform, which requires $85. Once registered, Edgers can create personal pages on the fundraising platform to help them raise the money they need to rappel. Over the Edge and United Way are providing numerous webinars, tips, ideas, and resources to help every Edger reach or exceed the minimum goal.
Elizabeth Shelton, Executive Director of United Way of Southeast Missouri, explains, “We have been looking for new ways to engage our community, and this has been a very successful event in other areas. Instead of asking people to pay to attend a gala or auction, we are asking them to pay for a once-in-a-lifetime experience, while raising funds for people in our community who literally are living on the edge, struggling every day not to fall under the weight of finances, health issues, unemployment, and many challenges the United Way network fights every day.”
Dr. Carlos Vargas, president of SEMO, plans to go Over the Edge, as will Shelton. ‘Celebrity’ Edgers and announcers from local media are being recruited to participate, including Kathy Sweeney from KFVS12. Special rigging can even accommodate Rowdy the Redhawk and other area mascots, as well as individuals with physical challenges.
The event offers area businesses and organizations a variety of ways to participate in this unique fundraiser. Drury Southwest and Procter & Gamble are sponsoring the Landing Zones, and sponsorships are still available for helmets and ropes. Chartwells is sponsoring the Chicken Coop, an observation area at the event that provides free food and beverages to anyone too chicken to go but willing to give $100 to a team or Edger.
One tactic generating a lot of buzz is the “Toss the Boss” event. Workplaces can raise $1,500 to toss their boss Over the Edge. Any reluctant boss can delegate going over to another employee by matching what the employees raise.
Those who would prefer to keep their feet on the ground are invited to help run the ground activities. Volunteers can operate refreshment tents, take photographs of Edgers, work logistics, or supervise lawn games.
A few brave volunteers need to be stationed on the rooftop of Towers South to assist Edgers and technicians. Ropes volunteers also are needed and will receive four hours of training before the event. All ropes volunteers get the opportunity to rappel without having to raise funds.
More than 56,000 people have safely gone Over the Edge of nearly 400 buildings during 800 events. Towers South had to pass a safety inspection before being approved for the event, and adherence to all OSHA laws and SPRAT procedures is enforced. Over the Edge provides professional rope handlers and technicians to safely see all rappellers Over the Edge.