Over the edge

Emily Ricks
3 years ago

This post is from the blog of a rappeller known as Motorista!

I have rappelled 478 feet down a 38-story building and lived to tell the tale.

The end.

Ha – not quite. In fact, there is a tale. It involves skyscrapers, ropes, kids with wishes, family, friend, babies, dogs, duct tape and more.

First, the scheduling gods smiled upon me such that almost my entire family (all of whom live out of town) was able to watch me go Over the Edge. We piled into three cars and headed to downtown Austin – a 20-ish mile trip that took over an hour, making me half an hour later than intended and producing the most stress of the entire experience. If you can survive Austin traffic, a 478-foot rappel is a piece of cake.

The rappel took place at the W Hotel. It is rather tall.

This really didn’t even bother me until after the fact. Looking at the photos now, I’m thinking: holy crap! Who but a half-crazed adrenaline junkie would do THAT??

Make-A-Wish and Over the Edge had a very organized operation – we filled out the obligatory forms, suited up in our harnesses, got double- and triple-checked for safety and rode the elevator a long, loooooong way up to the top floor. Then we climbed a few flights of stairs to the roof.

We did a “practice” run, which pretty much involved stepping off a stool and dangling in our harnesses like Mary Martin in Peter Pan. Then, THEN, we headed over to the contraption of death to be hurled downward as our families watched in horror. Because it’s one thing to go splat. It’s quite another thing to go splat in front of observers. I was less worried about the former, much more about the latter.

I admit, while I was never nervous about the actual rappelling part, even while the contraption of death loomed over me, that part about, uh, going over the edge – that part was a lil intense. Because they want you to stand up, on the ledge, your back to the doom of below, your heels ON THE EDGE and lean back into that harness thing that suddenly doesn’t feel nearly tight enough, and how can it be trustworthy with only two different hooks connecting you to two different ropes that extend from the contraption of death???

Yeah, that part required some concentration.

The rest was quite fun, if very tiring. Rappelling is WORK! You have to hold stuff with your left hand, pull on rope with your right hand, go Spidey with your feet, check out the view, wave to people and otherwise concentrate.

Check out my fan club, watching down below. Seventeen humans + 1 dog!!! And world’s cutest baby.

Pretty awesome.

Five hours later (actually, I think it was about 16 minutes), I hit the ground. And by “hit,” I mean that I gracefully and delicately alighted on the earth 478 feet from where I began. Or something like that.

Our sweet Make-A-Wish kids! We raised $450,000 for our local Make-A-Wish, which will grant wishes for NINETY kiddos. That’s the best part by far.

My parents were glad to see me at the bottom. I thought they were a pretty welcome sight, too!

Please do notice that I am wearing my favorite Keep Calm and Race On shirt, with “race” replaced by “rappel” thanks to duct tape. An impromptu costume!

So fun to share this experience with all my favorite people. Now I think I’ll keep all four wheels on the ground for awhile. ;)


Emily Ricks
3 years ago

The image above shows the shoe of an Edger named Corey who holds a special connection to Make-A-Wish Central & South Texas. If Corey needed an extra boost of encouragement as he was rappelling, he only needed to look down at his shoe where he attached a photo of his son, Jaxon, smiling in a Peter Pan costume in order to remember exactly why he was going Over the Edge.

Jaxon's journey began in 2011 when he was diagnosed with brain cancer, and referred to Make-A-Wish shortly thereafter.

Jaxon's mom Lenzie told us, "Jaxon loved Peter Pan, and with the grim prognosis of his recurred cancer, his doctors put in a rush request with Make-A-Wish to see if we could get Jaxon's wish granted before the disease progressed further. A few weeks later, Make-A-Wish delivered in a big way, and our family got to go on a week-long vacation to Orlando to meet Peter Pan.

Jaxon's wish came true when we not only got to meet Peter Pan, but he spent an hour with just our family in the wish lounge. Jaxon loved pretend sword fighting and crowing with Peter Pan, and at the end of the visit, Peter Pan escorted Jaxon and his sister across the park to the front of the ride, Peter Pan's Flight. Throughout Jaxon's journey, no one ever wanted to be in our shoes, but as we walked through the park with Peter Pan holding the hands of my children, everyone wanted to be us.

We are forever grateful for the joy Make-A-Wish gave our family, and the smiles and laughter our family experienced with our son on his Make-A-Wish trip continue to be priceless memories.

Last year, Over The Edge happened to be on my first birthday without Jaxon here, and I was honored to be able to represent Jaxon's F.R.O.G. Foundation along with my brother as we both went Over The Edge in memory of Jaxon. We chose to go down at 11:25 am, representing Jaxon's departure to Heaven on November 25th. Even the 32-story building was symbolic in that it was my 32nd year of life when most of Jaxon's treatment took place. Hanging from the side of a building is terrifying, but it's nothing compared to what these children endure."

Leading up to the event, Lenzie offered these words of encouragement to rally fundraisers to continue raising money for Make-A-Wish: "Some of you are afraid you won't reach the fundraising goal, but think of the giant that stands in the path of these children battling for their lives. Trust me when I tell you your goal is more attainable than you think. If my 5-year-old son could make a difference while paralyzed and blind on hospice care, imagine the impact we each can make without having such severe limitations and hurdles in our way. I challenge you to rise to the occasion and help make a wish come true!"

As Jaxon's dad, Corey, rappelled down W Austin in honor of his son Jaxon at 11:25 am again this year, the inspirational legacy of one brave little boy lived on yet again, reminding all of us of the indomitable courage of Wish kids and the power of a wish.


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