By Jack Holmes
It is not an everyday occurrence to have people rappelling down the side of the Hilton College Station. However, Thursday was a special day for the United Way of the Brazos Valley with the Over the Edge fundraiser.
United Way of the Brazos Valley is a nonprofit organization with the mission of bringing the community together to find solutions and change lives by advancing health, education, and financial stability, according to uwbv.org. To earn a chance to rappel, participants were required to raise at least $1,000 in support of the organization.
“It’s a community fundraiser, and everything we do in the United Way stays here,” Communications and Outreach Coordinator CeAnne Jones said. “We are fighting for the health, education, and financial stability of people in the Brazos Valley. This helps get to that goal sooner, and it is also a great way to kickoff our campaign season.”
Last year’s event raised $130,000 that went directly back to the Brazos Valley region, according to Jones. In 2015, over 60,000 people were impacted by the efforts of UWBV, and the organization has answered calls and provided referral information through 2-1-1 Texas Brazos Valley to nearly 200,000 residents, according to their website.
Participants came from near and far to take part in the event, with many of them facing down their fears to participate. Others participated for the thrill and the good cause.
“I’m a goal setter by trade,” said UWBV vice president community impact and Over the Edge participant Peggi Goss. “I like to set something, hit it, then set the bar higher. I think what I did here today was just another cog in the wheel.”
Goss quickly followed up by describing the experience as scary. but fun. There were also participants like Jon Osborn, an employee of Cross Texas Transmission, who is a self-described adrenaline junky.
“I heard about this event on the radio about a week ago,” Osborn said. “I called my boss and said ‘I’m doing this.’ My goal was $2,000, and the generosity that poured out of my Outlook contact list was just phenomenal. It has just been an amazing event.”
Osborn more than quadrupled his goal, raising more than $8,500 for UWBV, and said he is planning to write a check to bring the total to $10,000.
A small crowd of people were in attendance throughout the event on Thursday. Many were family members of the participants, while others were simply coworkers or friends. All of them were there to encourage and cheer on whoever was rappelling down the hotel.
Deborah Bass, Goss’ mother, echoed her daughter. “She’s always set goals for herself, and she’s always out there trying to help people and raise money and be a leader,” says Bass with a beaming smile. “I’m so proud of my daughter.”
Those who attended the event around 10:30 a.m. also got to enjoy two participants who descended from the sky in full cosplay. Kat Gammon, program and resource coordinator for UWBY, donned a full Spider-Man costume for her building-side adventure, while Eric Wylie, marking his second Over the Edge rappel, descended in full zombie costume and make-up.
Those who stuck close to the ground as they cheered on friends and coworkers were almost universal in how they described their favorite part of Over the Edge: seeing the participants’ faces after they had made their way down the side of one of the tallest buildings in the city.
For more information about United Way of the Brazos Valley, visit www.uwbv.org.