More than 70 men and women will be stepping over the edge of the roof of the SunTrust Bank Building on Oct. 4 and 5. The opportunity to make a descent of 280 feet off of a downtown office building has never been offered to Chattanoogans before and is designed as a fundraiser to benefit the local Boy Scouts and RiverRocks.
Individuals doing the descent, known as 'edgers', are taking part in Over the Edge presented by SunTrust Bank, which kicks off the 2012 RiverRocks outdoor festival. Whether it is celebrating a 40th birthday, going over in a wedding dress days before saying 'I do", or to remember a special person in their lives, each edger has their own unique reason for taking on the challenge.
Among the participants are Boy Scout and business leaders, local media personalities, incoming Chattanooga Chamber of Commerce CEO Ron Harr, Allison Lebovitz, this year's United Way Campaign chairperson, and many other edgers who are ready to have an experience of a lifetime.
"I'm excited to have this very special opportunity to rappel down one of the tallest buildings in downtown Chattanooga," said Ron Harr, incoming Chattanooga Chamber of Commerce chief executive officer. "I love what RiverRocks is doing to promote the city's incredible natural resources and want to support them and the Boy Scouts. Living in a community with such a strong outdoor lifestyle is one of the things I love." Mr. Harr has had some rappelling experience but it has been 41 years since he has done a descent.
No experience is necessary as trained rope tenders and safety experts will be on hand. Allison Lebovitz has rappelled off of a climbing wall before but never something on this scale. "When I was 21 years old I did a bungee jump off a hot air balloon while hovering 130 feet above the ground. It was both terrifying and exhilarating. So I understand how nerve-wracking that first step can be," noted Ms. Lebovitz. "This event is actually a great analogy - just like the people who are rappelling down the SunTrust Building, business and community leaders must always aim higher and be willing to get out of their comfort zones in order to inspire innovation and effect change. The first step is always the hardest, but once you commit, the path taken can create meaningful change."
Parkridge Health System is sending three of their senior leadership team over the edge, one each from Parkridge Medical Center, Parkridge East Hospital and Parkridge Valley, and is competing to see who can raise the most money. Brennan Francios, chief executive officer of Parkridge Valley noted, "I am doing this to represent and honor the staff at Parkridge Valley. We enjoy the camaraderie of having some friendly rivalry with our sister hospitals. Of course I am confident that we will prevail."
One celebrity that will be hard to miss is Looie, the Chattanooga Lookouts mascot.
The event is limited to 70 rappellers so those wishing to participate are encouraged to sign up as more than half of the spaces have already been reserved. A total of $1,000 in donations is required to go over the edge and the only limitation is that participants weigh over 100 pounds.
SunTrust Bank, the presenting sponsor, and the building owner Simpson Organization, stepped forward to make this unique fundraising event possible. For more information, and to start the fundraising process, visit www.overtheedgechattanooga.com or call 265-0771.
Over the Edge is the signature kickoff event for RiverRocks 2012. The 10-day festival, celebrating Chattanooga outdoors, will feature more than 90 events from Oct. 5-14. Now in its third year, the festival benefits eight local land conservancies and is dedicated to bringing people together to celebrate the area's natural beauty through sports, music and family fun. For a complete list of events visit RiverRocksChattanooga.com.