With his back facing out towards the city of Raleigh, Steven Pait sat on the edge of the Wells Fargo Capitol Center. The view was gorgeous and he felt mostly at ease as he felt a light breeze through his helmet. It wasn’t until Pait stood up and leaned back into harness that his stomach dropped. Then he made the mistake of looking down.
He couldn’t even tell himself that it wasn’t that high—it was. But then Pait spotted a small clump of bright purple shirts and instantly felt at ease again. He looked down at his own purple shirt, with “Team Emma” written in large letters and a cartoon bug in the middle, and smiled. Then, he stepped Over the Edge.
While the fear of heights may keep many people from attempting this 30-story rappel, Pait has a very simple reason. His daughter, Emma, is his source of inspiration.
“Ever since we learned Emma had an intellectual disability, and after going to Special Olympics competitions, I wanted to do something more for these incredible athletes,” explained Pait.
So, he did. In 2016, Pait formed Team Emma Bug and raised funds to go Over the Edge. Over the Edge is a fundraiser for Special Olympics NC where individuals raise a minimum of $1,000 to rappel down the Wells Fargo Capitol Center in downtown Raleigh.
With the help of friends and family, Pait raised the $1,000 minimum and began preparing himself to go Over the Edge. On October 1, 2016, the whole Pait family, clad in purple Team Emma Bug shirts, drove from cities around the state to watch as Pait made his 30-story descent.
“When I got to the ground, it was awesome to see Emma. I could hear her cheering from the air and it made me excited to get to the ground and get ahold of her,” said Pait.
Once he successfully made it back to solid ground, Pait found that he had inspired someone else to join him in going Over the Edge the next year: Emma’s grandma, Peggy Moore.
To kick off their fundraising efforts for the 2017 Over the Edge event, Steven and Mackenzie Pait, Emma’s mom, made Team Emma Bug t-shirts to sell to friends and family. The shirts went to friends and family in many different states, proving just how far spread Emma’s impact has reached.
“Emma has touched so many people, and that’s clear by how many people wanted to support this effort,” said Pait. “She’s my inspiration and she lets me know that anything is possible, so of course I needed to do this for her.”
After raising over $2,000 for Special Olympics NC, the Paits made their way back to downtown Raleigh on September 30, 2017—this time with brand new orange Team Emma Bug shirts! The family watched and cheered as rappeller after rappeller descended 30 stories for Special Olympics, but the volume went way up when Pait and Moore took the first few steps over the edge.
Emma couldn’t have been more thrilled to watch her dad make his way down the Wells Fargo building for a second time, this time accompanied by her grandma Peggy.
“Last year it was nerve-wracking watching him come down, but this year was a little easier to watch them come down together. And Emma was excited to see her daddy do this again,” said Mackenzie Pait.
After making it down all 30 stories, Pait and Moore made it to the ground and met Emma, Mackenzie and the rest of the family in the medal zone. Receiving medals for their bravery, Pait and Moore showed us just how far the family is willing to go for someone as important as Emma.
Even with the 2017 even barely behind him, Pait is gearing up for round three of Over the Edge. And he won’t be alone! Not only will Moore join him in rappelling again, but they plan to bring an even larger cheering section next year.
We’ll see you at the Wells Fargo Capitol Center on September 29, 2018, Team Emma Bug!