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
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
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.
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.