What was Kayla Richard’s message to those who followed her over the side of Maplecrest Towers on Thursday?
“Don’t look down.”
Richard was one of 54 people scheduled to rappel down the wall of the 14-storey apartment complex in support of Easter Seals Drop Zone fundraiser and said going over the edge was a little more daunting than she thought.
“I kind of came in thinking it was going to be a piece of cake and then they have you stand at the edge of the building and it all becomes very scary,” Richard said.
The cause was more than enough to help her conquer her fears.
“I did it because Easter Seals is an amazing charity and they deserve all the money we raised here today,” she said.
Jacqueline Pylychuk said her son Zack would love take the Drop Zone challenge, but because of his mobility issues, she was glad to confront her fears and walk her way down the red brick wall.
She was filling in for a friend, Linda Stone, representing Canadian Tire. Stone’s vacation plans coincided with Thursday’s event and Pylychuk stepped in, with the encouragement of her son.
“I actually didn’t think I was scared of heights until I stepped out on the side of the building and I went, ‘Oooh.’ But it was way more for Zack. Zack wants to go up there and would do it in a second if he could, but the last floor isn’t wheelchair accessible,” she said.
Dougall Media’s own Fiona Gardiner, best known for delivering the nightly weather outlook on Thunder Bay Television, was also among the participants and called it probably the most exhilarating experiences of her life.
“I felt great at the beginning. Halfway down I looked around and suddenly went , ’Oh, bleep.’ I got nervous halfway through, but it was so much fun and definitely something I would do again.”
Asked why she wanted to scale her way down the outside of a building with a perfectly functional set of stairs and an elevator, Gardiner had a simple explanation.
“I was in a rush and it seemed like the fastest way to get down,” she said.
“The Easter Seals kids are an incredible group of young people who face a lot of challenges every single day. They just go head first for them and they don’t let anything stop them. They are really inspiring kids and I wanted to do something to help them.”
Gardiner added she’s faced her own challenges this past year.
“This was a way of proving to myself that I could overcome anything too.”
Organizer Rhonda Harrison said the event appeals to thrill seekers, a one-of-a-kind opportunity in Thunder Bay.
“There’s nothing else like this, 14 stories, right in the middle of town,” Harrison said. “People collect pledges, they rappel and they’re the superheroes for the day.”
The event raised about $40,000 in 2013 and Harrison said she was hopeful with more participants this year they would surpass that total in 2014.
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