NeighborWorks Northeastern Pennsylvania plans Over The Edge event in Scranton
SCRANTON — If everyone was jumping off of a building, would you jump too?
NeighborWorks Northeastern Pennsylvania and Over The Edge event planning organization teamed up to bring the first Over The Edge event to Scranton. Registered fundraisers have pledged to raise $1,000 each for NeighborWorks, which will allow them to rappel 146 feet down the tallest building in Scranton. Up to 92 rappellers will brave the face of the Bank Towers building between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. June 11.
NeighborWorks is a non-profit organization working to improve the financial stability of families throughout the region with home ownership services. Since 2003, Over The Edge has helped non-profits raise money.
NeighborWorks development and events coordinator, Sandy Snyder, said the impetus for Over The Edge Scranton came from CEO Jesse Ergott who wanted to plan something different with ties to their mission.
“We’re raising money with this rappelling event to support local services, local home rehabs and home projects,” Snyder said. “We serve the elderly, the disabled and the disadvantaged.”
Over The Edge provided exactly what they sought, Snyder said.
“They have created these exciting events to bring into a city and have it be an attention grabbing two days, bringing a lot of people downtown and getting a lot of businesses involved,” Snyder said.
June 10 is a preview day where 10 people will rappel as a dress rehearsal. June 11 is the public event where people can support rappellers and watch the action. The day includes musical entertainment, food and drink.
Candidates can still register to rappel, but $1,000 must still be raised. Those with a last minute interest can visit www.crowdrise.com/neighborworksnepa to register and build a profile.
Snyder, who is scheduled to rappel at 10 a.m. June 11, said the descent is a challenge for her as she is not the biggest fan of heights.
“I would not describe myself as a thrill seeker,” Snyder said. “It’s a leap of faith. The cause is very important to me. I’m not looking back now.”
Sara Pokorny, a Wyoming native and former Weekender writer, has “a terrifying fear of heights.” She got involved after Snyder reached out.
“I hate heights but it’s for a good cause,” Pokorny said. “I want to push myself. I’m 30 years old, and I want to do some fun stuff, so I might as well conquer my fear and jump off the edge of a building.”
Bear Creek resident and Wilkes-Barre business owner Ruth Corcoran was the first rappeller to reach her goal.
“When (Sandy Snyder) first told me about the event, I don’t know that I was paying attention,” Corcoran said jokingly. “Now that’s it’s happening, I’m a little bit nervous, but I’ve raised over $2,000, so I’m going down the building.”
Corcoran, a frequent fundraiser and benefit organizer said the event is one of the most innovative ways she’s seen an organization raise money and spread awareness.
“If this can educate people on (NeighborWorks) and what they do, that would be great,” Corcoran said. “In addition to helping people who need housing, they provide education on how to pay your mortgage and maintain your home. They’re enabling people to have the tools they need to succeed.”
Mel Talmadge has a different kind of motivation for participating. The Inkerman resident received a kidney transplant in 2009, and he wants to make the descent to spread awareness about organ donation and give hope to people on dialysis.
“Maybe they’ll say, ‘OK, if that guy got a transplant, and he’s 65 and he’s doing that, maybe I should hold on here and hope for my transplant,’” Talmadge said.
The retired Army veteran has advocated for organ donation since his successful surgery seven years ago, but this effort is on his own behalf, unassociated with donor organizations. He’s currently raised $1,020, and he hopes to film his descent with a GoPro and post it on an informational forum for dialysis patients.
“There are a lot of websites where people on dialysis get together and talk to each other,” Talmadge said. “I’m doing this for them. I’ve already got my kidney. I’m hoping to get people off the chair.”
Talmadge has trained on a stationary bike in order to shed some weight before rappelling. He said the training has been going slow, but it’s not stopping him.
“They’ve got a harness big enough to take care of me, so we’re going to do it,” Talmadge said.
The organ donation advocate is excited to be joined by an organization he often speaks for, Gift of Life, which will have a table set up at the event.
“It’s like a street party,” Talmadge said. “This whole event has really taken on a life of its own. All these people are jumping for different reasons, and NeighborWorks is the main reason.”
Reach Matt Mattei at 570-991-6651 or Twitter@TLArts
IF YOU GO:
What: Over The Edge Scranton
Where: Bank Towers building, 321 Spruce St., Scranton
When: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. June 11
More info: Donations can be made to rappellers by visiting www.crowdrise.com/neighborworksnepa. General donations can be made by visiting the same site and selecting the Give The Gift of Adventure page.