Fundraisers go over the edge for Special Olympics


by ASHLEY GOUDEAU / KVUE News and Photojournalist JUSTIN TERRY

Bio | Email | Follow: @AshleyG_KVUE

Posted on October 29, 2012 at 11:22 AM

Updated Monday, Oct 29 at 4:12 PM

AUSTIN -- The effort to help Special Olympics athletes hit new heights Saturday when brave fundraisers went over the edge. 

It's something you don't see everyday -- people repelling off the side of the 185-foot-tall Hyatt Regency hotel in downtown Austin.

The courageous thrill seekers aren't just looking for an adrenaline rush, they're going over the edge for Texas Special Olympics.

"It's fun for a cause," said Clayton Dean, who was repelling.   

The repellers didn't need the bravery of Batman to scale walls. A bumble bee, golden girl super hero, even KVUE's own Quita Culpepper, were all on hand to raise money for Special Olympians and their annual competitions.

"They love our athletes. You know, our athletes are people with intellectual disabilities and they are, as I just said, 44,000 strong, and what they are doing is making an investment in their lives," said President and CEO of Special Olympics Texas Margaret Larsen.

Each person who rappelled off the side of the building raised at least $1,000 -- money that will go to Special Olympics of Texas, and the organization is hoping to raise between $75,000 and $100,000 in this event.

"Every medal you see that people wear just so proudly, our athletes get them, it costs us in the market of $2.61. So every time you give $100, you're supporting almost 50 athletes," Larsen said.

If you don't know just how important those medals are, ask Special Olympics athlete Katherine Richards. She won the gold in Athens, Greece for volleyball.

"I feel like I've accomplished something," Richards said.

The 23-year-old says competing gives her the chance to feel normal, and she's doing her part to raise money too. Richards also took on the Hyatt.

"Excited all over, and hopefully we'll finish down safely," Richards said.

Just as exciting for Richards and others is the purpose behind the plunge.
Special Olympics is holding four more rappelling events in Texas this year. The cities include Dallas, Houston and San Antonio.