Don’t look down

Local philanthropists go “over the edge” for Big Brothers Big Sisters

By Maha Kashani

Have you ever wondered what it would feel like to be Spiderman? On the day of Urban Nights, a handful of adventure-seeking philanthropists who are raising money for Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Miami Valley (BBBSMV) will know. Key Bank Tower, the second tallest building in downtown Dayton, will play host to our spider men and women, creating lifelines by raising a minimum of $1000 each to support BBBSMV, who will get the chance at the ultimate adrenaline rush by rappelling 27 stories down on Friday, Sept. 14. This is as extreme as it gets in downtown Dayton!

This is the second year for this unique and action-packed fundraiser for BBBSMV. Last year, I was one of the inaugural rappellers who raised enough money to qualify to rappel with a team of friends during Urban Nights. It was awesome!

People always ask me, “Were you scared?” I wasn’t. As we were standing on top of the Key Bank tower – which stands 384 feet tall – overlooking the Miami Valley, I felt slightly invincible, regardless of the fact that just a few moments earlier I signed my life away on a waiver. I’m pretty sure it was the adrenaline. When we got to the top, all I could remember thinking about on that rooftop was: 1) “Hurry up, guy before me who is obviously scared of heights, because I’ve been waiting forever,” and 2) “Wow, this is a great view … we should have parties up here!”

Ok, I’ll be honest … It was a slightly different story once I was finally mounted and standing up ready to go “over the edge.” They had me harnessed up, safety checked and told me I was good to go. I turned around and looked down. You’re not supposed to do that, but I couldn’t help but take a peek. Everyone looked like little ants. I still felt fine, until they said, “Now stand up straight and lean back like you’re falling over but keep your body straight” “What? Lean back, where is the resistance? Can’t I slowly crawl off the side of the building?” Well, the answer is “No.” You have to stand up and lean back like you’re falling off the building so your weight will catch and you can start working the gears. Now THAT was scary. Imagine no resistance and feeling like you’re trying to free fall off a building. Once I finally caught the resistance, I was good to go. The rest of my trip down was smooth sailing.

Catching Urban Nights from a bird’s eye view? Priceless.

The event was such a huge success its inaugural year that they have added a third rope so that three rappellers can go over the edge consecutively. So far, over 80 people have signed up and organizers expect to raise at least $80,000, far outpacing last year’s numbers of 58 rappellers who raised $52,000.

New this year is the Executive Challenge. Local daredevil executives like Phil Parker, CEO of the Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce, have stepped up to the plate to compete in a challenge to see who can raise the most money in support of Dayton-area youth.

Back again is Hunter Johnson, an inaugural-year rappeller who said “I’m going down the tower with LexisNexis (again!) so that BBBSMV can do more good for kids right now, which pays even more dividends down the road.”

Last year’s entertainment was provided by Jay Nigro, owner of Liftoff Entertainment. This year, he’s taking the plunge. “I am super excited to rappel off of Key Bank Tower. Not only is it for a great cause, BBBSMV, but it will take me back to the days of being a Boy Scout. I DJed the event last year and it was a blast seeing all of the rappellers and their friends/co-workers who came out to support them.” Nigro said.

Do I have any advice for all the first time rappellers out there?

Just don’t look down!

Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Greater Miami Valley is a non-profit organization that is dedicated to improving the lives of children facing adversity and transforms the communities in which they live, by providing strong and enduring, professionally supported 1-to-1 mentoring relationships. For more information, please visit:

Reach DCP freelance writer Maha Kashani at

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