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September 13, 2012
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Go Over the Edge for a good cause… if you’re brave enough

By Dave Mable

Al Oberlander of Des Moines went “Over the Edge” of the Financial Center last year, representing the Special Olympics Iowa Board of Directors. Photo courtesy of Special Olympics Iowa.

Anne Buscher, a senior at Dowling Catholic High School, plans to drop herself over the edge of the 345-foot Financial Center in Des Moines. Joining her will be nearly 100 others in Over The Edge, a unique event for Special Olympics;, on Wednesday, Sept. 19.

Now in it’s third year, Over The Edge, helps raise money for Special Olympics, which sends 11,000 athletes — children and adults with intellectual disabilities — to training and competition in more than 80 events throughout the year.

“People of all ages and backgrounds participate in this event,” said Joyce Allard, Special Olympics Director of Communications. “Participants have been as mature as 86 years old. People have worn costumes, which we are encouraging this year by awarding prizes to the best costumes.”

Over The Edge participants agree to raise at least $1,000 for Special Olympics and are given, in addition to a long-sleeve T-shirt, the opportunity to rappel down the Financial Center in Des Moines. Other than a few age and weight restrictions, anyone is welcome to try it. This year, the event is expected to raise $75,000.
With its downtown location and mid-week time-frame, Over The Edge presents some exciting and unique spectator opportunities. On Tuesday, Sept. 18, from 1:30 to 4 p.m., V.I.P.s, including Special Olympics Board members and donors, as well as local media and sports celebrities, will take the plunge first, rappelling from the top floor of the Financial Center.

The general public will get a chance to participate at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 19 and continue through 5 p.m. in what promises to be a nerve-racking but highly entertaining spectacle. The best view is across the street from the Financial Center at the corner of 7th and Walnut streets.

Participants must be at least 14 years of age and weigh between 110 and 300 pounds.

As a high school senior, Buscher is ready to conquer her admitted fear of heights.

“I have no idea how I’m going to do this,” she said. “I’ll probably just close my eyes and slowly go down the building.”
Buscher has extra incentive to drop over the edge — her uncle is a regular Special Olympics athlete, which is a big reason why she has been a volunteer supporter of Special Olympics since she was 9 years old.

“I’m doing this to give back to people like my uncle,” she said. “It’s my senior year, and it will top my service to Special Olympics.”

Buscher urges anyone brave enough to try dropping over the edge to “go for it.”

“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” she said.

For information on how to join Buscher and others in this high-flying endeavor for a good cause, contact the Iowa Special Olympics office in Des Moines at 515-986-5520 or www.soiowa.org. CV
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Other special events

During May, the State Summer Games are held at Iowa State University in Ames. Nearly 3,000 athletes participate in Special Olympics, making it Iowa’s largest annual event, according to Joyce Allard, Special Olympics Director of Communications. Competitions include aquatics, track-and-field, bocce, cycling, roller skating, soccer and tennis. Athletes also get to have their day in the spotlight at the Opening Ceremonies at Hilton Coliseum. Other events throughout the year include the State Winter Games as well as events in bowling, equestrian, flag football and more.

Coaches and volunteers are needed year-round, and information can be found on the organization’s website at http://www.soiowa.org. CV



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