Over the Edge


by Bri Kilroy

Grand Rapids is a beautiful city that we have the luxury of appreciating from the varying heights of its buildings, the panoramic offering at Belknap Park lookout and the images talented photographers capture. How would you feel about adding, “Overlooking the city as you rappel from the second tallest building in Grand Rapids” to that list? Whether it perks your interest or scares you enough to want to do it, Easterseals Michigan is bringing you that opportunity.

Multiple people rappelling down the distinguished structure three days into ArtPrize Eight (September 21-October 9) could easily be mistaken for an ArtPrize entry, but this signature event is the result of Easterseals Michigan harnessing a rappelling license with Over the Edge special events company for the most adventurous fundraiser Grand Rapids has seen.

Over the Edge executes a philanthropic mission to raise donations for local non-profits and gives extraordinary fundraisers the chance of a lifetime: rappelling from the edge of a local high-rise building. In Halifax, Nova Scotia the rappel point was 1801 Hollis and Duke (285 ft). In Los Angeles, California it was the Westin Bonaventure Hotel (367 ft). Here in Grand Rapids, Michigan it’s the 34-story Plaza Towers (345 ft).

“I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t scared,” Director of Easterseals Michigan, Denise Durkee, who is fundraising and rappelling over the edge of Plaza Towers with anyone else who raises a minimum of $1,500 for Easterseals Michigan. “But I don’t like to ask people to do something I wouldn’t do myself.”

Stepping from the comfort zone is something Durkee experiences on a daily basis at Easterseals Michigan, a local non-profit that serves and supports people with disabilities and enhances their quality of life with benevolent care. While the children and adults it serves are challenged to live outside of their comfort zone regularly, Easterseals Michigan invites everyone in the community to do the same by supporting its work and seizing a place on the ropes dangling from Plaza Towers.

Those who raise the money but find more satisfaction watching friends and community members rappel down the building get VIP access to the “Chicken Coop,” an indoor viewing spot in Plaza Towers’ Monroe room. VIP guests enjoy refreshments, networking with sponsors and, of course, watching the rappellers face a fear, live an adventure and scale down the side of the building.

Whether you find yourself hanging over the edge of Plaza Towers, watching from the “Chicken Coop,” contributing a donation to an individual or working with coworkers to “Toss Your Boss” over the edge (an option where employees raise $1,500 to send their boss rappelling down the towers), you can find fulfillment in supporting a great cause and stepping out of your comfort zone to catch a new view of
Grand Rapids. For information on all of the above, visit OvertheEdgeWestMI.com or EasterSealsMichigan.com.

What: Over the Edge
Where: Plaza Towers, 201 W. Fulton St.
When: September 24, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
To register: Visit OvertheEdgeWestMI.com or call Easterseals Michigan at (616) 942-2081


Bri Kilroy is a Grand Valley and AmeriCorps alumna who learned to type through vigorous Mavis Beacon trainings. She also passes as an artist, illustrator and author of this bio.




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