WILTON, Conn. — Wilton Police Officer Diane MacLean may have a fear of heights, but that didn’t stop her from scaling down the side of a 16-story building to raise funds for Special Olympics Connecticut.
MacLean, a 13-year veteran of the department, was among a group of about 20 people who rappelled down an apartment building in Stamford during the “Over the Edge” fundraising event on Sept. 12. She raised more than $1,300 for Special Olympics in the process.
“I'm incredibly afraid of heights, so this was a tremendous undertaking for me,” said MacLean.
Every year, MacLean said the Wilton Police Department hosts a “Tip-A-Cop” fundraiser in which officers wait tables at Outback Steakhouse and then donate all their tips to Special Olympics. Wanting to do something different this year, she signed up to go “Over the Edge,” despite her fear of heights.
“My thought process was, if these athletes can overcome their obstacles, and not even see them as obstacles, then so can I,” she said.
MacLean was further encouraged by the support she received from family and friends, who helped her surpass the $1,000 fundraising minimum. She also placed donation jars at various local businesses.
On the morning of the event, MacLean drove to Stamford with her husband. When she arrived at the Park Place apartment building, she was escorted to a staging area and fitted with a harness. After the harness was double checked, she was brought up to the roof.
When it was her turn to go “Over the Edge,” MacLean said she was a little apprehensive, so she sat on the ledge first before standing up. Upon standing, she was instructed to put her feet on the edge of the building and slowly sit back as if she were sitting on a swing. The feeling, she said, was nerve wrecking, yet exciting.
“I lowered myself by feeding the rope at my own speed and the descent began— I loved it!” she said. “I took my time, enjoyed the view and even ventured to look down a few times.”
MacLean said she was greeted by cheers and applause when she reached the bottom. She also able took a photo with a Special Olympics athlete.
“It's impossible to not be inspired by these athletes to accomplish things you never thought you could,” she said.
MacLean enjoyed the experience so much, she plans to do it again next year, but from a taller building— the Mohegan Sun Hotel.
For more information about Special Olympics Connecticut, visit soct.org.