On the edge

The roof of the Key Bank building. Photo by Jessica Valle. The roof of the Key Bank building. Photo by Jessica Valle.

September’s Urban Nights will be over the top

By Jennifer Hanauer

The roof of the Key Bank building. Photo by Jessica Valle.

The roof of the Key Bank building. Photo by Jessica Valle.

Raise $1,000 for Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Greater Miami Valley (BBBSGMV), and you get the chance to rappel down the side of Dayton’s 27-story KeyBank Tower during September’s Urban Nights. This was the proposition put forth to the adventuresome faction of Daytonian do-gooders, and such was the appeal that so far more than $35,000 has poured in with thousands more expected by the big day. This is not your average bake sale.

BBBSGMV has employed the fundraising prowess of Over the Edge (OTE), a special events company that provides non-profit organizations the opportunity to raise money by sending participants who have raised pledges rappelling down the side of a building.

Now, I am 100 percent certain that I am not the only person who would be up at nearly 400 feet above the pavement, shaking and dizzy, possibly sobbing, but when I asked OTE participant and Dayton City Paper columnist Maha Kashani if she was scared, she responded, “No, not at all! I love adventure, risk-taking, and a good physical and mental challenge.”

But it’s so high!

“Yes, it’s intimidating, but it takes a lot to scare me,” said Kashani.

Ed Dixon, Big Brother and fellow gutsy OTE participant, has a plan for when he gets to the top of Dayton’s second tallest building, “I think the key is not to think about it too much and just have fun with it.” On his first time to rappel, Dixon said, “It’s really a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, which I definitely plan to do only once.”

Kashani summed it up, “Ultimately, it’s a cool, fun and unique experience, plus the money we are raising goes for such a fantastic cause. This is what I call win-win.”
I suppose I shouldn’t go too mother hen on these brave souls. OTE participants will be in extraordinarily capable, highly-trained hands. OTE’s top-notch technical staff of more than 25 technicians come from varied backgrounds ranging from the top cave rescue experts in the U.S. to professional mountain guides to some of the top industrial experts for working at heights. All OTE events are overseen by either an Industrial Rope Access Trade Association (irata.org) or a Society of Professional Rope Access Technicians (sprat.org) level-three certified technician, the highest possible certification in the rope access industry.

There aren’t many restrictions when it comes to who’s an eligible participant. Essentially, if you can raise the money and are between 100 and 300 pounds, you can go over the edge and OTE technicians will get you there safely. “We’ve had a 12-year-old boy rappel and an 80-year-old grandmother rappel,” said Iaian Archibald, general manager of Over the Edge Inc. “We’re proud to say that we’ve facilitated various participants with both mental and physical challenges taking part. In some instances one of our staff rappel with participants if needed, and we’ve become experts at assisting participants in wheelchairs doing the rappel while still in their chairs!”

OTE’s ambitious mission is to create a legacy with a 10-year goal to help non-profit organizations throughout North America raise $50 million, and they’re well on their way. “This year we’re looking at delivering 63 events all over the U.S., including Alaska and Hawaii,” said Archibald. “Next year we hope to deliver over 90.”

And according to BBBSGMV CEO Joe Radelet, we could not be in a more perfect position to hold this kind of event. “Dayton is the ideal size for this kind of event,” said Radelet. “It would be lost in somewhere like Chicago, surrounded by taller buildings like the Sears Tower.”

Radelet, who is a Big Brother to two “Littles,” began his involvement with Big Brothers Big Sisters in the 1990s in Detroit. After spending 11 years with the organization in Philadelphia, Radelet moved to Dayton last year bringing with him all the fervor necessary to take BBBSGMV to the next level – and to get a grown man into multi-colored spandex. To heighten the buzz around OTE at Urban Nights, Radelet donned a Spiderman costume during July’s Clambake for Kids’ Sake, an event that raised $65,000 for BBBSGMV.

Radelet will be joining in on the “fun” with our other extreme do-gooders at the top of KeyBank Tower. Action is his reward.

BBBSGMV has been changing lives in Dayton for more than 50 years. BBBS, which began over a century ago with programs starting up independently in both Cincinnati and New York, makes one-on-one matches between “Bigs” and “Littles.” A nation-wide study conducted in 1995 by Philadelphia-based research organization Public/Private Ventures found that children involved in the BBBS program were 46 percent less likely to begin using illegal drugs, 52 percent less likely to skip school and 33 percent less likely to hit someone.

Despite his temporary stint as our local Spiderman, Radelet insists that you need not be superhero or saint to have a positive impact on the lives around you. “People think that you have to be Mother Theresa, but that’s not the case,” said Radelet on involvement with BBBSGMV. “It’s just regular people.”

No, I’m sorry, but I must disagree. Ordinary people stay on the ground. Extraordinary people raise thousands of dollars for a great cause and then walk down the side of a skyscraper. But I guess that’s just my opinion.

Friday night I will be at ground-level, inspired by those with more guts than myself and, along with 30,000 or so fellow Daytonians, enjoying everything else that the night has to offer.

Urban Nights, downtown Dayton’s bi-annual block party, will showcase more than 100 local businesses, provide interactive art and activities for all age groups and inundate you with every variety of local music. This free event running from 5 to 10 p.m. Friday, September 16 will span from the Wright Dunbar Business Village through downtown and Riverscape Metropark to the Oregon Arts District, with the Greater Dayton RTA operating a free trolley to help bridge the longer distances.

Urban Nights has seen a dramatic increase in its attendance in the almost decade that it has been vibrating the streets and has widened its appeal and increased the age range to which the event caters.

“We’re seeing a lot more families in recent years,” said Downtown Dayton Partnership’s Special Events Coordinator Krystal Luketic. “We have more activities that children can interact with, like the Chalk Walk and jelly bean art.”

Aside from a fantastic amount of people-watching opportunities, Daytonians will have a vast array of activities to engage themselves in. Among these are:

  • Urban Bikes @ Urban Nights. Bring your cycle and meet at 5:15 p.m. in the Don Crawford Plaza in front of Fifth Third Field for a community ride through all of the action.
  • Taste of the Miami Valley. The two-day event begins Friday at Riverscape Metropark where 25 Miami Valley restaurants will be offering $3 tastes of their most mouth-watering fare.
  • Two stages will host live music to enjoy with the samplings.
  • SCANvenger Hunt, hosted by Comtactics. This event will have you roaming the streets of downtown looking for QR codes to scan and then answer trivia questions to be entered in drawings for giveaways throughout the night.
  • FREE photo booth to immortalize your fun-filled evening.
  • Break dancing and juggling lessons will be offered for the more nimble and dexterous of us.
  • Pianos. Tickle the ivories of one of the four pianos Hauer Music will be releasing into the wild for pedestrians to add to the pulse of the evening.
  • Karaoke. The Community Stage at Second and Jefferson Streets will be hosting all levels of talent from 7 to 10 p.m.
  • Live Music. There will be no shortage of music in the air at Urban Nights. The Wright Dunbar Stage on the southwest corner of Third and Williams Streets will have the Chey Butta Band, the Audio Show Band and gospel music. The World Music Stage will be set up at Dave Hall Plaza on Fourth Street between Main and Jefferson. Jasper the Colossal, Jake Speed & the Freddies, the Dayton Gay Men’s Chorus and Systems Go, the U.S. Air Force Band, will all be performing in Courthouse Square. The Community Stage at Second and Jefferson Streets will have local artists in 10-minute increments from 5 to 7 p.m. Live on Five in the Oregon Arts District next to Trolley Stop will have the SMAG Dance Collective, Ape the Ghost, Al Holbrook and Bottoms Up.

Visit www.downtowndayton.org for a complete performance schedule and listing of all participating locations’ events and specials. For updates and more information go to
www.facebook.com/UrbanNightsDayton. To learn more about Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Greater Miami Valley and discover how you can change lives, please visit www.bbbsgmv.org

Reach DCP freelance writer Jennifer Hanauer at jenniferhanauer@daytoncitypaper.com

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