Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “Do one thing every day that scares you.”
Sorry, but that’s not a rule I tend to follow. I have zero risk-taking genes in my body and my stress levels are high enough.
So when Shelley Goren, CEO of Gilda’s Club, and Sara Howley Callari, Gilda’s Board Chair, asked me to “Go Over the Edge for Gilda’s” by rappelling down the side of the B Ocean Hotel, my response was “heck to the no!” The event would be taking place on my birthday - an even better reason not to take the plunge off a 14-story building.
But if you know these two ladies, you know it’s hard to say no. They are fabulous women whom I adore. So I eventually agreed (after they wore me down)!
Since it was my birthday, I needed a little extra support so I asked my Dad to join me. The big day arrived! I won’t lie and say I wasn’t extremely nervous and the training talk did little to put me at ease. But the staff and volunteers at “Over the Edge” (Art, Mike, Rebecca, Ruben and Frank) kept assuring me there was no way to get hurt. Once we were harnessed, we trudged up (really, though, we took the elevator but ‘trudged’ sounds so much more adventurous) to the roof of the hotel to see the city sparkling below us. It was beautiful and I thought to myself : “What’s the worst that could happen? I’ll somersault over the edge all Nadia Comaneci style and look the complete opposite of graceful?” Oh yeah, that happened.
My Dad went first and my goal was to follow right behind so we could rappel down together. But I made the mistake of looking down 14 stories. Oh dear! My Dad went straight down but I couldn’t even get off the wall (Dave Decoteau, the photographer, has the proof of my terror). I finally did make it over - head first and not on purpose - and eventually got myself right side up. My sense of awe overpowered any feelings of fear - until I got “locked up” and was dangling mid-air. But that treacherous drop (so dramatic aren’t I?) segued into the beauty of the ocean on one side, the lush green trees of Birch State Park on the other and everyone on the ground serenading me with a fabulous version of “Happy Birthday.” Of course I forgot everything they told me in training about getting locked up, but the crew was amazing and I made it down, feet first.
So much for imagining myself rappelling the wall - part Wonder Women part Charlie’s Angels - lassoing evildoers to confess their crimes. Yep, wasn’t anything close to that.
But I did kick fear as hard as I could right in the teeth. And what better birthday gift could I give myself?
A celebration of new experiences, an unforgettable adventure with my Dad, not to mention an opportunity to bring awareness and support to Gilda’s Club and all the people who have benefited from their cancer support programs free of charge.
Later that evening I ran into Jil, a lady I had met a few years ago at Gilda’s Club, and she looked amazing. It was a perfect end to the day.
Whatever this year has in store for me I say: Bring it on! Life begins at the end of your comfort zone. Seventy people went “Over the Edge” and raised more than $100,000. For more information or to support Gilda’s Club’s, visit www.gildasclubsouthflorida.org.