Telling people I was rappelling 365 feet down a skyscraper overlooking San Diego evoked one response, over and over again - “Are you nuts!?”. It’s a fair question. After all, my previous experience in rappelling was almost a decade ago—on a 30-foot climbing wall in high school gym class. Yet, the cause was worth it. I, along with 80 other edgers rappelled down 40 stories to support funding and research for brain cancer—a disease that touches so many families, but is under-studied and under-funded.
Brain cancer is the leading cause of tumor cancer deaths among children and young adults. More than 600,000 people in the U.S. live with a brain tumor diagnosis, and another 66,000 new diagnoses are expected this year. It’s a devastating disease—one with few available treatments—that is in need of more targeted, focused and well-funded research.
That’s why on November 3rd, along with 80 other rappellers—or “edgers”—I took the Over the Edge Challenge to help find and support a cure for brain cancer.
We were joined by American Idol winner David Cook, who lost his brother to brain cancer four years ago, who took the plunge with ABC2 CEO Max Wallace. Other edgers included mothers, best friends, and researchers who lost loved ones. I was inspired by Dr. Bob Carter, Chief of Neurosurgery at the UC San Diego Health System rappelled, whose patients gathered on the ground to cheer for him during his decent.
Each of the “edgers” committed to raising funds in exchange for the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to rappel down the tallest waterfront hotel on the west coast, the Manchester Grand Hyatt. Collectively, we raised more than $143,000 that will help fund San Diego-based brain cancer research at ABC2’s partner, the UC San Diego Health System.
Of course, the truth is, I was nervous leading up to the event. The anticipation and action of taking that first step over the edge was terrifying. But hanging up there—365 feet above ground—and looking down at the other participants, patients, and individuals who support ABC2, I felt so proud to be part of their fearless mission to help find a cure for brain cancer.
Over the Edge generated awareness among thousands of people who had never supported brain cancer research before. So am I nuts? Perhaps. I embarked on a fearless mission to raise funding for a cause that impacts thousands and I reached out of my comfort zone and challenged my fears to do so.
Cara Perellis is a Project Manager at the Case Foundation and part of the Interactive Strategies Team. Learn more about Case Foundation and their efforts to support ABC2 here. Read their recent blog on Over the Edge here.