It may have been a counter-intuitive way to descend 31 stories, but Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Sierra Haymes said rappelling down the side of the Bank of America Plaza in St. Louis was “definitely worth it.”
The driving force that pushed her off the top of the building were the local Special Olympics athletes – the Lincoln County Roadrunners – who were cheering her on.
“Because I knew it meant a lot to them,” she said.
Held Sept. 28, Over the Edge is an annual fundraiser for Special Olympics, now in its 11th year, which aims to support the 7,500 athletes living in the St. Louis region.
“All the money that we raise stays here in St. Louis,” said Special Olympics Events Manager Jennifer Kaiser. “It does not get distributed across the state. The money goes for training, sports competitions, health screenings, ongoing education, all the programs that we offer to our athletes.”
The counties impacted include Lincoln, Franklin, St. Charles, Jefferson, St. Louis City, St. Louis County, Pike and Warren.
The building used last year for the Over the Edge event, the Hyatt in St. Louis, is only 17 stories – making for a big change to the all-glass, 31-story Bank of America skyscraper.
“It was awesome, it was definitely taller than the past two years, so it was kind of intimidating, but I’m glad that I did it,” Haymes said. “And I’m already seeing on the Facebook post some of the Roadrunners are commenting, saying that they were really excited that I did it.”
The building being all-glass made a big difference for the rappellers, Kaiser said, as the reflective side gave participants a unique view of their surroundings as they zipped down the building.
“Normally you’re just looking at a wall, and unless you make a conscious effort to look around when you’re rappelling, you’re really just looking forward,” Kaiser said. “But because the building is reflective, you could see everything around you without actually having to look around.”
At the top of the building this year, Haymes said she was a little nervous, especially since the building has a little bit of a ledge to climb over at the top before you can even rappel down.
“That was probably the scariest part,” Haymes said.
The actual rappel time was a little over 25 minutes, Haymes said, but the weather was clear – with only a little bit of wind – making for a perfect descent.
The event raised over $66,000 for Special Olympics in the area, Kaiser said.
“Really it’s for the athletes, that not only are we raising awareness for Special Olympics athletes and helping to raise money so that they can participate in sports year-round, but really, personally, the Roadrunners, they’ve been asking me about this event for a while and asking when it was, and I know they were really excited to hear about it and see the pictures,” Haymes said. This is her third year doing it.
“I hope to do it every year,’ Haymes said.