Nineteen stories, or more than 265 feet. That’s the height of Montana’s tallest building — the First Interstate Bank Tower in Billings — and that’s how far dozens of supporters will plummet in support of Special Olympics Montana.
Luckily though, they’ll be harnessed in and carefully monitored by local emergency services.
Special Olympics Montana (SOMT) will hold the second annual Over the Edge event, which allows people who raise at least $1,000 for the group to rappel down the side of the First Interstate building, 401 N. 31st St., on Aug. 23.
“It brings a new and unique fundraising event to the city of Billings,” said Leslie Moyar, SOMT development director, at a Monday press conference announcing the event. “The energy and the awareness that it brings for Special Olympics Montana is huge.”
The press conference featured members of the Billings Fire Department rappeling down the building for about two hours, giving people a taste of what they’ll go through if they sign up.
Last year’s event drew 52 rappelers and raised more than $70,000. All of the proceeds go to SOMT.
This year, organizers hope to double the number of participants to 100 and more than double the amount of money raised.
Chris Fulton, who sits on SOMT’s board of directors, said public involvement helps to support the 2,000 Montanans who participate in SOMT throughout the year.
“It allows you present bravery and dedication, just as they do every day,” he said.
Anybody wishing to rappel must first raise at least $1,000.
“People are sometimes daunted by the $1,000 but it’s really easier than you think,” Moyar said.
She said it’s especially easy to gather donations through the FirstGiving website, which helps people raise money for nonprofit groups.
Over the Edge will, once again, be held in conjunction with Alive After 5. The evening will put a focus on family entertainment while people rappel overhead.
Billings Police Officer Tina Hoeger, who is the Southeast Regional Coordinator for the Law Enforcement Torch Run, which raises money year-round for SOMT, said that the Billings Police SWAT team will be on hand, as will the Billings Fire Department and police officers for security.
She also said that Police Chief Rich St. John and Yellowstone County Sheriff Mike Linder will be among those being lowered down the side of the building.
“It’s an amazing adventure and I invite all of you to come out and do it,” she said.