On Thursday, August 21st, First Interstate Bank employees and Special Olympics supporters braved a 19-story rappel to raise funds for Special Olympics Montana. The First Interstate Bank Tower has served as the venue for Over the Edge since its inception four years ago. With nine fundraising teams and over 50 individual participants, groups from across the state of Montana turned out to show their support by rappelling the 265 foot drop.
Special Olympics Montana partners with Over the Edge, a U.S. based company specializing in creating unique fundraising events for non-profit organizations. However, as the second largest Special Olympics fundraising event in Montana, event coordinator Wendy Rispens noted that Over the Edge has truly become a community affair. “Over 30 volunteers come out for this event. Members of Billings SWAT and the local fire department operate the ropes, and Over the Edge has consistently told us that they’re some of the best volunteers in the nation.”
What makes Over the Edge such a unique fundraiser is the role reversal for the fundraisers and athletes in attendance. “Normally, we’re cheering on athletes who have overcome adversity to participate in the Games. With Over the Edge, it gives our fundraisers a chance to overcome some adversity of their own,” Rispens said.
Fundraisers must reach a goal of raising $1000 in order to qualify for a spot to rappel. All the proceeds go directly to the athletes, to provide year round training opportunities in preparation for the Special Olympics. This year, Over the Edge raised over $73,000 for Special Olympics Montana. When asked about the donations and exposure of Over the Edge, Rispens was emphatic. “It’s been a tremendous success. [First Interstate CEO] Ed [Garding] understands what we’re trying to accomplish. We really couldn’t have done it without the help of First Interstate Bank.”