What's on your Houston bucket list? If rappelling down a 20-story building isn't in the top 10, maybe it should be. This will be the seventh year that Spider-Man, Batman and The Flash wannabes have taken the plunge, and it looks like a blast.
It's not free – there's some serious overhead lining up the Houston SWAT team, Harris County SWAT team, rope experts, harnesses and rigging – but it's all for a good cause. The challenge is designed to raise awareness and funding for Special Olympics Texas, a nonprofit that encourages more than 55,000 intellectually disabled children and adults statewide (9,900 athletes are from the Houston area).
“Each participant is asked to raise a minimum of $1,200 to participate,” says Joan Jarrett, associate vice president of resource development for Special Olympics Texas. “So when they register to go Over the Edge we provide them a personal web page. They can send emails out to all of their friends, family and business contacts [inviting sponsorship].”
Expect to spend about an hour on the rooftop of the Embassy Suites by Hilton Houston Downtown for recon and training with the experts, learning to trust the harness. “There are two ropes on each rapeller: each will hold a Ford F-150. It's safer to rappel down the building than it is to drive there, considering the crazy traffic,” says Jarrett.
Some groups organize a “send the boss, police chief, principal or coach” campaign, though we're not sure if that means they're loved or hated.
Jarrett says the trip down to the third-floor pool deck takes between six and 10 minutes, depending on how often you stop to enjoy the view of the city, Discovery Green and Toyota Center. Plus, the pool deck is a great place for your family and friends to watch your descent, take pictures (or bets) and celebrate the accomplishment.
Overachievers – like those who take the dual-city challenge and rappel down the 15-story Oak Cliff Tower in Dallas – get swag and merch. We're partial to the “superhero” package, where they strap a GoPro to your helmet so you can relive the glory, over and over again.
$2,200+ Dual-City Rappeller - Everything below plus one night stay in the city of your choice
$1,800+ Superhero Rappeller - Everything below plus GoPro video footage
$1,500+ Elite Rappeller - Everything below plus commemorative jacket
$1,200+ Champion Rappeller - two invitations to the V.I.P. Reception (day before the event), Over the Edge commemorative long sleeve T-shirt, duffel bag and photo of your rappel available for download after the event.
So sign up, meet the goals, then join honorary co-chairs assistant Houston Police Chief Mark Curran and Harris County Sheriff Ron Hickman, as well as celebrity co-chairs Dana Tyson (Sunny 99.1 FM) and Rod Ryan (94.5 FM The Buzz). It's superhero time.
8 a.m. to 5 p.m. October 15, Embassy Suites by Hilton Houston Downtown, 1515 Dallas, 800-876-5646, specialolympicstexas.org.