By: Kate Dyer
In July, my 12 year old daughter Sariah and I decided to participate in Over the Edge for Special Olympics. Initially I was rather apprehensive about the event. Not because Sariah and I would be rappelling off the roof of a 22-story building in Boston. Although my husband and son were not exactly excited about the idea. But rather, because I have always been intimidated by fundraising.
Special Olympics has been important to me for most of my adult life. It offers so much to everyone involved. The Special Olympics athletes get to experience some independence and build their own confidence. They develop new friendships and become reacquainted with ones of old. And, most importantly, the experience gives them a sense of accomplishment, and safe place to feel a part of something much bigger than themselves. Coaches gain an appreciation for each of their athlete’s struggles, learn the importance of patience and build their own organizational skills by leading a team with athletes of many differing abilities. Unified Partners develop more physical fitness, feel the joy of watching athletes experience success, and become involved in an important part of their community. Parents of children involved in Special Olympics suddenly have a full network of likeminded and challenged families within a compassionate and dedicated organization that fits their child’s needs. And the unimaginable joy that comes with watching their child celebrate with their teammates after scoring a goal or basket.
In order for all of this to happen it is important for families to be involved in the fundraising process. Sariah and I used email and Facebook to reach out to family and friends. We sold candy door-to-door and at various events. We hosted a yard sale and were able to get many items donated. And Sariah donated half of her babysitting earnings to raise funds to go Over the Edge. I was amazed and humbled by all the support we received. It was not nearly as difficult as I thought it would be and I found when reaching out to friends and family, they were more than willing to support a cause that was so important to our family.
Once we finished collecting the donations, we then had to prepare for the actual Over the Edge experience. We bought matching outfits and decorated our shirts with the names of our athletes and unified partners on the back.
We had gorgeous weather on the day of the event! After checking in we headed up to the roof to prepare for the experience. After putting on the harness, we went through two practice sessions in a small secured area. But now it was time for the real thing. Stepping off the hotel roof edge was both exhilarating and terrifying. The view of Boston while rappelling down the side of the hotel was breathtaking. We were able to see Boston from a vantage that few people get to experience. In addition to the altitude-induced adrenaline was the overwhelming support we received by the friends and family members that came to support us. They stood at the bottom, held signs and cheered for us as we rappelled down the hotel.
Going Over the Edge with Sariah was an amazing mother/daughter moment that I will treasure forever. I was so proud of her. Although nervous, she persevered and the two of us repelled side-by-side. And to add to the experience, Sariah was very excited to learn that she now holds the record for youngest participant to go Over the Edge.
Without fundraising, Special Olympics would not be as successful as it is and we would not have the memorable experiences that we do each season. Going Over the Edge for Special Olympics was an opportunity to fundraise for an organization that our family is passionate about and have an experience of a lifetime.