Jim Gusler had come a long way for this moment. A two-hour drive south from Caswell County and then a 30-story elevator ride had brought him to the very top of the Wells Fargo Capitol Center. He was ready to go Over the Edge for Special Olympics North Carolina and after a deep breath, he started rappelling down the side of a downtown Raleigh skyscraper.
But he wasn’t making the trip alone. In fact, he had a whole cheering section waiting for him on the ground.
“I’m a troop leader for the Boy Scouts and our entire troop came to cheer me on. It was great to have such a large support system,” explained Gusler.
His Boy Scouts did more than just cheer him on though; they were the reason he was rappelling in the first place!
“Our assistant troop leaders saw an ad and took it to the boys behind my back! They all decided that I should be the one to rappel and brought it up at our next meeting. I told the boys that if they raised the money, I’d do it.”
The group of teenagers did not disappoint, raising the $1,000 within 3 weeks by asking family and friends for donations.
“I was so proud of them. We gave them service hours and they really worked hard and rallied around the cause,” said Gusler.
As proud as Gusler was, he wasn’t at all surprised. His Boy Scout troop had an important reason to raise money for Special Olympics North Carolina: one of their fellow Scouts is a Special Olympics athlete.
“Irvin joined our troop and the boys immediately accepted and included him. They all took a disability awareness training before he joined and received a badge for it. In fact, our Over the Edge trip was all about Irvin! We visited museums and the landmarks in Raleigh and everyone worked together to make sure Irvin was able to enjoy the trip too,” shared Gusler.
Irvin and his fellow Scouts certainly enjoyed watching their troop leader rappel 30 stories. They cheered every time his name was announced and couldn’t wait to join him for his medal zone photo.
“I’ll be honest, I’d rather see them on the podium with the Over the Edge medal because they did all the work. It was the best experience because it was more than just me rappelling: they got to help others and see this through until the end.”
What started as a way to make Irvin feel welcome quickly snowballed into raising funds and awareness for Special Olympics North Carolina. Gusler sees it growing even more.
“I definitely think we will come back next year! The boys even were talking about rappelling themselves so I may have some company on the rooftop!”