Mike Grail and his teenage son Carson have had many special father and son moments, but none matches what they did Saturday morning when they rappelled a 10-storey high building together.
“Once you get over the edge, it was just a lot of fun, and looking at Carson’s face made this whole event worth it for me,” said Grail, who is foundation board chair.
They were among the many who took part in the Over The Edge fundraising event organized by the Children’s Treatment Centre Foundation of Chatham-Kent to raise money for a new children’s treatment centre to serve the growing need in the community.
Carson, who has cerebral palsy, doesn’t let that be an obstacle to what he wants to achieve.
But, he admits this was the toughest thing he’s ever done.
Getting a little emotional, Carson said, “I don’t know how I did it.”
While his first thought when making it to the ground was “thank goodness,” Carson, 15, was also feeling the exhilaration of the moment.
“It was awesome,” he said.
Grail said Carson hasn’t done anything independent like this and “it has been absolutely amazing.”
His son was worried, but he credits the professionals at Over The Edge for talking him down.
Mike Genge, foundation executive director, led by example being the first to go over the edge.
“It was the scariest, funnest thing I’ve ever done in my life,” he said.
“I’m still a little nervous,” Genge admitted about 30 minutes after completing his descent.
Over The Edge site safety supervisor Ron Green talks participants down.
He said the key to having a good rappel is to “try to relax, enjoy and put your trust in us.”
He said three professionals take care of people, beginning in staging where participants are properly fitted with a safety harness and other equipment. Then they receive training on how to use the equipment, which is designed to bring down the anxiety as they get a feel for how it is done.
“When they get up here, most of them get to the edge and they forget all that,” Green quipped.
He said a final systems check is done then it is time to go over the edge.
“I take the fall restrain off and then I talk them through it, get them to calm down and relax and try to enjoy the ride,” Green said.
He said when people get on the roof their heart is pumping, they’re sweating and the nerves are tingly.
“Sometimes it takes about five minutes to talk them over the edge, sometimes I’ve taken half and hour,” Green said.
While some people only do it once, he said others love the experience so much they come back several times.
He said people have come back four or five times and some have even become volunteers who have followed Over The Edge around to other events to help out.
“They love seeing the expression on people’s faces as they go over,” Green said. “They help people overcome their fears.
The event is expected to raise about $93,000, said Genge on Monday.
"I’m really, really happy, because it’s our first year," he said.
The 2018 Kia Forte, donated by Lally Kia, was won by local resident Nathan Bergeron, who works at Retro Suites in downtown Chatham.
Genge said Bergeron is among the five employees from Retro Suites who went over the edge.
He said Bergeron has a young family and only one vehicle, so his wife had and to pack up the kids to come and pick him up when he works nights.
"It’s great the car has gone to a couple that could use it, I’m really happy about that," Genge said.