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Local team goes 'over the edge' for Special Olympics
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Dana Westbrook rappelled down a building to raise money for Special Olympics. - photo by For the Forsyth County News

Dana Westbrook has a fear of heights.

But that didn’t keep her and a group of five other Forsyth County Special Olympics supporters from going “Over the Edge” to raise money for the organization.

The group of teachers, parents and Special Olympics volunteers from across the county took part in a recent fundraiser that required them to rappel down a 20-story building in Atlanta.

“I have an extreme fear of heights,” said Westbrook, who learned about the Over the Edge fundraiser on Oct. 10, which was her birthday and inspired her to donate her birthday money.

“But I thought … ‘If these kids [in Special Olympics] can power through and do the things they do on a daily basis, I can suffer through 10 minutes of going down a building.’”

But, she noted, “trying to tell my legs that as I was stepping off was another story.”  

Westbrook and her teammates, none of whom had rappelled before, dubbed themselves the SO Forsyth Falling Avengers.

They dressed up in superhero costumes and, despite having never done it before, Westbrook said “none of us chickened out.”

Maybe their superhero powers helped. They must have assisted in their fundraising efforts too, as the group raised nearly $8,400 for the local Special Olympics, which provides a year-round range of athletic activities for special needs children and adults.

In total, the Over the Edge event April 20 had nearly 125 rappelling participants who together collected more than $180,000 for Special Olympics chapters across the state.

Westbrook said the Falling Avengers have plans to return next year.

“We’re trying to get enough people from Forsyth County together to raise the most money in the state,” she said.

Hopefully her second time over the edge will be a little easier than the first.

“When you think of 20 stories, you think, ‘Oh that’s not that tall,’” she said. “And then you look out over the edge and you’re like, ‘Oh yes, it is.’

“Getting a hotel room on the 20th floor, not a big deal; jumping off of it, that’s a totally different story.”