Local police chief to jump off building

Scaling the face of a 17-story building may not be most people’s first choice of a fundraising event, but it’s exactly what 100 individuals are planning to do next week in Wilmington, in an effort to raise awareness and money for the Delaware Special Olympics.

The adrenaline-pumping fundraiser is the product of Over the Edge, a special events company aimed at helping non-profit organizations raise pledges for an experience of a lifetime, rappelling over the edge of a local building.

On Thursday, May 12, athletes of the Delaware Special Olympics, their families, state officials and others will strap on a harness and rappel down the side of the Brandywine Trust Building in downtown Wilmington. Among these daredevils is Selbyville Police Chief Scott Collins. Collins has been a member of the Selbyville Police Department for nearly two decades, serving as the department’s chief over the past nine years, and a staple throughout the community.

“I’ve been involved with other Delaware Special Olympic events,” he stated. “I told some of the board members about rappelling off of a water tower back with the fire department, and they said this would be a great event to be a part of. The 17 stories doubles the highest thing I’ve ever gone down on a rope, but it should be fun.”

A number of state troopers from Troop 4 in Georgetown, as well as representatives from DNREC (Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control) will join Collins in the rappel.

“Fortunately,” Collins laughed, “I’m a big guy, so I should be done pretty quickly.” It’s been 15 years since I’ve done anything like this, so it will be interesting. It’s definitely something new and different, and the first time it’s done around here. That makes it pretty cool to be a part of.”

The Over the Edge event is geared to those who are fearless, those looking to overcome fears, and those just wanting to make a difference in the lives of countless individuals. Since 2003, Over the Edge has been sending participants rappelling down buildings, all for a good cause.

By 2009, they established a calendar of events, with 19 separate rappels. In 2010, 42 events were held, and this year, the rappel down the Wilmington Trust Building is one of 70.

“We have been growing steadily,” said Ben Hazlehurst, the North American Business Development Manager for Over the Edge. “We’re working with big-name corporations, too, including Boy Scouts, Special Olympics, American Cancer Society, Gaudenzia. These are great organizations and we’re excited to be working with them. Over the course of 10 years [starting in 2009], we’re hoping to help raise $50 million for a worthy cause.”

With each Over the Edge event, meticulous safety precautions are taken into consideration. Each event is set up as an industrial worksite and is compliant with all federal and state OSHA Fall Protection Standards and OSHA Federal and State Laws. In addition, the policies and procedures adhere to the best practices as identified by IRATA (Industrial Rope Access Trade Association) counsel. Highly trained and certified rope specialists are on hand to supervise each event. To date, Over the Edge has handled over sixty events, and counting, with thousands of participants.

This marks Over the Edge’s first venture into the First State, and in the region.

“Over the Edge has been a part of Special Olympics in other states,” said Delaware Special Olympics’ Media Relations, Jon Buzby, “and we thought it’d be great to bring them to Delaware, too. We’re going to have Special Olympics athletes, their parents, state legislators, and an 84-year-old board member go over the edge of the Brandywine Trust Building. When you think of an event like this, you typically think of extreme sports athletes, but it’s not the case. We have all different types of people participating.”

According to Hazlehurst, Over the Edge has suited up participants from as young as 10-years-old to 88, military personnel and has even sent participants in wheelchairs over the side of buildings.

“We’ve seen people from all walks of life,” he said. “We’re really proud to get so many people involved. It’s incredible how accessible something like this is. It’s a simple concept, and anyone who wants to give to the cause can do so, and get a really big rush out of it. It’s and inclusive event that can really galvanize a community.”

Initially, Special Olympic Delaware’s goal was to have 75 participants take the plunge in Wilmington, but the idea had a lot of people jump on board.

“We were shooting for 75, and were going to cap it at 100,” said Buzby, “but we’re almost at that cap now.” To be eligible, participants are required to raise a minimum of $1,000, each.

“It gets the community excited about the cause,” said Hazlehurst. “There are roughly 1.9 million non-profit organizations in the country, and in order to get noticed and get support, you have to do something that stands out, and that’s where we come in. We’re always looking for new participants and new partners.”

For more information about the Over the Edge event in Wilmington, check out the Special Olympics of Delaware’s homepage at www.sode.org. To be a part of the cause and to support Chief Scott Collins and the fundraiser, donations can be dropped off at the Selbyville Police Department or online by visiting www.selbyvillepolice.com.

For more information about Over the Edge, visit www.overtheedgeusa.com.