Des Moines Goes ‘Over the Edge’ for Special Olympics Iowa

DES MOINES, Iowa - Afraid of heights? Get in line. But plenty of people in downtown Des Moines Wednesday conquered - or at least, endured - their fear in the name of charity.

"Camaraderie. Teamwork. Folks conquering their fears," said Steve Palmer, board chair for Special Olympics Iowa. "That allows for all of our athletes to be included in sport; gives them uniforming, training, able to compete in state, regional, local games. And they can compete, if they qualify, go on to national games, and even world games."

Over the Edge isn't a Des Moines-specific fundraiser; started by the Special Olympics at a national level, the state-level organizations find a tall building, and charge participants $1,000 a pop to rappel down it. All proceeds go toward Special Olympics Iowa's athletes.

"We do this so our athletes can be like everyone else; they can compete," Palmer said.

Channel 13's Reid Chandler tested out the equipment a day before everyone else. His fear of heights made for some funny video caught on a couple of GoPro cameras. But like everyone else, he made it safely to the ground.

"Once you do it, it was the right thing to do," Palmer said. "It is for a great cause, you know, why you're doing it. And the impact you're going to have on our athletes."

Palmer says 51 of Special Olympics Iowa's athletes took the plunge Wednesday, too. The event, which raises around $75,000 a year for the group, helps it serve the 2,500-3,000 athletes it works with each year.

"All the athletes get a chance to do their best, not be judged on their ability, no one makes of fun of anyone," said Charity Hodson, an athlete. "And we can do the best we can and everyone is accepted."