- Associated Press - Thursday, September 18, 2014

PITTSBURGH (AP) - When Bert Dorazio got dressed on Wednesday, he tied a red cape around his neck, slid a shiny black wig over his tanned bald head, and prepared to traverse down a 25-story building as Superman.

A five-year Hodgkin’s lymphoma survivor, Dorazio of Mt. Washington joined about 60 others - some in costume - who rappelled down the Oliver Building, Downtown, to raise more than $150,000 for Our Clubhouse, a Strip District nonprofit that provides emotional support to cancer patients and their loved ones.

“It was more scary than jumping out of an airplane,” Dorazio, 63, said when he unbuckled his harness to applause from a crowd clustered along Smithfield Street, “but it’s not nearly as scary as having cancer.”

Forget the humdrum 5K race for charity. Nonprofits increasingly are capitalizing on thrills, publicity and donations generated by getting several dozen volunteers to rappel down high-rise buildings across North America.

“They’re looking at ways that their organizations can stand out,” said Rick Cohen, spokesman for the Washington-based National Council of Nonprofits. “It’s something that really catches someone’s eye on social media, and that’s becoming more part of the fundraising dynamic - something that you can see in your friend’s Facebook feed and say, ‘I want to be a part of this.’ “

Fifty people rappelled down the 17-story City Center in Milwaukee for Special Olympics Wisconsin last week, and 80 descended the 22-story Ecolab Corporate Center in St. Paul for Boy Scouts of America. On Monday, 62 people dropped down the 27-story Caesars casino hotel in Windsor, Ontario, for Easter Seals.

The events, including the Pittsburgh fundraiser, were organized by Over the Edge, a Nova Scotia-based organization that has cornered the rappelling-for-charity market since 2003. Its events have helped raise $33 million - and demand is rising.

“We’re constantly expanding and growing,” said Menna Riley, account manager for Over the Edge, which is on pace to double its clients from two years ago, with at least 115 events scheduled in 2015 in the United States, Canada, Latin America and the Caribbean.

“I love this; I’ve never seen this before,” said Ron Farrise, a New Yorker who works in financial services and stumbled upon Spider-Man and Wonder Woman descending the Oliver Building between business meetings.

“Man, I want to do it,” said passer-by Tirah Ragin, 17, of East Hills.

Our Clubhouse spent about six months planning its block party at the Oliver Building, the second Over the Edge event in Pittsburgh. Drug addiction-prevention group Shatterproof put on the first at the 26-story Westin Convention Center in mid-July.

“There’s so many 5K walks that everybody gets saturated with those,” said Allegheny Valley Hospital Chief Medical Officer Dr. Margaret Meals, who raised $8,000 for Shatterproof with five women. “Having a very daring thing like that is remarkable, and people pay attention.”





Information from: Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, https://pghtrib.com

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