Most local climbers will tell you the best part of rappelling is the adrenaline.
The feeling they get is a combination of satisfaction from being on top of a summit and the decision to turn their backs to the view and begin a descent down a cliff. The first moment - the feeling of weightlessness when they push their bodies over the cliff and hang by one single rope - that's what it's all about Imagine how that feeling magnifies when the cliff is no longer a cliff but an 18-story building and the view is the entire Scenic City from Chickamauga Lake to Lookout Mountain. Despite strong muscles and an even stronger sense of adventure, there will probably be several shaky legs as rappellers hang over the city - then scale their way down safely to the asphalt below.
You won't have to imagine how it feels if you're one of the 75 local participants who get the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to bounce down all 240 feet of the SunTrust building as part of RiverRocks kick-off event, a rappelling fundraiser called Over the Edge held Oct. 5.
"The most exciting, thrilling and nerve-racking part of the entire experience will be the moment when you go from being parallel to the building to perpendicular," says event co-coordinator and Boy Scouts of America Cherokee Area Council Assistant Scout Executive Adrian Hackett "That first few steps leaving off are going to be the best, but the views will be completely breathtaking from start to finish."
Over the Edge will be presented by a special events company that has been providing similar adventures across North America for the last nine years, according to RiverRocks co-founder Mike McGauley. Before descending the SunTrust building, Hackett says all participants will be fitted with a helmet and a harness, given an orientation on the equipment they will be using and provided with an opportunity to do a one-story practice rappel on top of the building.
Due to safety procedures, Hackett says two participants, also called edgers will be allowed to rappel off the building every 12-15 minutes. Participation is on a first come, first served basis. Anyone 18 years old or older who weighs less than 300 pounds is eligible to participate, but eligibility requires a minimum $1,000 donation that will be split between RiverRocks and the Cherokee Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America.
Over the Edge offers you the perfect opportunity to show your boss just what he or she means to you. Join forces with fellow employees to raise $2,500 and watch your superior squirm while dropping down all 240 feet of the SunTrust building.
"Edgers can feel good knowing the funds they raised will go directly to the Boy Scouts and RiverRocks," says McGauley. "Between RiverRocks' constituents and the Boy Scouts' constituents, we can really reach out with this event."
The Cherokee Area Council currently serves approximately 6,500 youth in 11 counties throughout the Chattanooga area. Hackett says the funds raised from the event will most likely go toward providing more opportunities in communities where Scouting doesn't currently exist because of socioeconomic barriers or other factors. Funds will also go toward the Council's existing camping program.
McGauley says RiverRocks will not dictate where the funds from the Over the Edge event will go, but he anticipates they will go toward trail cleanup and other renovation efforts necessary to alleviate storm damage that has accumulated in the area in the last year and a half. RiverRocks currently supports eight different land-conservation groups throughout the region and has donated more than $70,000 over the last two years.
From experienced climbers to people who have never rappelled before, Hackett and McGauley agree they are looking forward to attracting a broad audience to both the event and their causes.
"It's going to bring a lot of people together for a day of camaraderie and fun," says Hackett. "And it's definitely something new to add to the repertoire."