On October 18, 2012, I experienced one of the highlights of my life – literally and figuratively. I went Over the Edge of a 25 story skyscraper in downtown Richmond for Special Olympics Virginia. Thanks to the wonderful staff and volunteers of the Over the Edge event. We had clear skies, lots of great fellowship, and super fun. Best of all, we broke some overall giving records for the event. Many more Special Olympians will benefit as a result.
Also, thanks to all those who helped me achieve the rank of top individual fundraiser and establish a new record for any individual participating in the event. I had signed up late due to concerns with my schedule. So when I started, I wasn’t sure that I could raise the $1000 minimum required to rappel. You certainly taught me a thing or two about faith. To think we raised $6000 in only four weeks is humbling to me. Yet both I and the event staff well exceeded our goals. Over $120,000 was contributed overall which well exceeded the $100,000 goal and established a new event record.
I would like to encourage you to do this next year (or as soon as you can make it happen). You won’t regret it personally, and it is a great gift to our community. Perhaps you can even nominate your own community faith leader to take this leap of faith. It has been highly rewarding experience for us at Messiah Lutheran Church and School to “Push the Pastor over the Edge”, and we made many new connections and friends in our community. In addition, we have helped Special Olympics Virginia serve more than 11,000 athletes through seven regional offices and 30 area programs. If heights scare you, consider joining their network of over 20,000 volunteers. I think you will find your volunteering blesses you and others.
To add to the fun, I promised a party for our preschoolers and elementary age after school students to thank them for their support and prayers. In addition, I promised I would share some pictures and videos of the event. It took me awhile to get the time to edit and upload them all, but you can find them below. Through the photo, you can access a complete photo gallery of the event. I also am posting a series of three YouTube videos: a birds eye view of the entire rappel from my head cam, a view from the ground as I started my descent, and my arrival back on the ground. I am afraid the video isn’t as exciting as actually doing it, but you’ll get an idea of my experience.
Due to the great fun and success of my efforts, I have told Special Olympics Virginia that I would try to recruit other pastors to participate next year. Already, I have a few that have expressed interest, so stay tuned. If you would like to nominate your faith leader to be “pushed Over the Edge”, feel free to contact me about how I went about things, and be sure to check out the Over the Edge website.
Special thanks for supporting me and my efforts to help the intellectually disabled as well as spreading the news about this event goes to: Sheriff David Hines & the men and women of the Hanover County Sheriff’s Office; members of the Virginia Crime Clinic – Central Virginia Chapter; Hanover Adult Center & my friends in their Linking Lives Program; Friends of L’Arche Central Virginia; the faithful servants of Lutheran Family Services of Virginia (Richmond Office); the always awesome & helpful FaithInRichmond.com, the VCU Alumni Association and my fellow alumi at VCU (Go Rams!), my BRs from the Class of 1986 and many other fellow alumni from VMI (I hope I made Coach King proud in putting my Rat Training to good use), and of course my wonderful family of faith, friends, students & staff at Messiah Lutheran Church and School in Mechanicsville, VA.
In the 1930’s, my Aunt Theresa was born with an intellectual disabilty. My grandmother told me that many of her relatives and friends encouraged her to institutionalize my aunt. Although this was more common than not during that time period, my grandmother refused. Despite any disability, my Aunt Thesea grew into a beloved and active family member who worked and contributed to the greater community in many ways. My grandmother’s love and wisdom remains a testimony to me, as does the love and friendship of the many people I have been in relationship with over the years who had intellectual disabilities. They were and remain much more than any disability that challenged them, and I dedicated this effort to all of them. They have done more for me than I have ever done for them. Thanks again to the Special Olympics, Lutheran Family Services, Linking Lives, and L’Arche for loving so many people well. I am truly your fan. I remain also the biggest fan of my wife, Kristine, who puts up with all my crazy ideas and long hours with both patience and love.