I Went “Over the Edge” of Boji Tower

May 24, 2024 | Life

On May 18, 2024, me and 50 participants, went ‘Over the Edge’ to raise money and awareness for the Women’s Center of Greater Lansing.
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There are few opportunities to scale down the side of a building, let alone a 23-floor building in Lansing, MI. On May 18, 2024, during the 517 Day Weekend, around 50 participants, including myself, went ‘Over the Edge’ to raise money and awareness for the Women’s Center of Greater Lansing. The experience was once in a lifetime.

The Event: Over the Edge

The first-ever Over the Edge fundraiser saw participants rappel down the 297-ft Boji Tower, offering a new perspective on Lansing. Sponsored by Grewal Law, the event aimed to raise $100,000. The Women’s Center achieved over half of this goal thanks to donor matches and the generosity of community members.

The Cause: Women’s Center of Greater Lansing

The Women’s Center of Greater Lansing is a private non-profit organization that provides support services to women in the Lansing area. Since opening in 2005, they have served more than 10,000 women, offering services such as career counseling, resume preparation, individual counseling, and a wide variety of support groups and workshops.

Facing My Fear

For years, I have been saying that I am afraid of heights, recalling the feelings I experienced on rollercoasters or at great heights. I didn’t plan to participate in the event. As an AmeriCorps VISTA member working at the Women’s Center, I was there to support the staff. WCGL had reserved spots for employees interested in rappelling, so I planned to rappel in case I felt the urge.

At the event, I considered participating several times but was too scared. Rationally, I knew it was safe based on the information from the Over the Edge team and my research, but that didn’t stop my fear. Despite my fear, everyone encouraged me, from coworkers to other participants. After some thought and substantial encouragement, I decided to participate in the last hour of the event.

Taking the Plunge

Once I decided to participate, I expected to sign up and wait for a time slot. To my surprise, my coworkers immediately told me to empty my pockets and remove all jewelry to head up to the top of the building. I was trembling with nerves and anxiety.

I made my way to the elevator and first stopped on the second floor to get fitted for my gear. The process was swift. I was sized, strapped into my harness, given gloves, and given a helmet. After everything was secure, I had a short training session a few feet off the ground. I learned how to get myself down the rope and about the safety mechanisms in place to keep me secure—a trust-building exercise.

The Final Ascent

After a few tries on the training ropes, two other participants and I were escorted to the 22nd floor. Since Boji Tower has a tiered, angled rooftop, accessing the top floor for rappelling wasn’t the safest, so we started from the highest, safest point.

When we reached the balcony where we were going to rappel down, another woman was already there preparing to go down. The other two participants had planned to go down together, leaving me with a choice to either go down with the woman already there or go down by myself. Feeling scared and considering backing out, I decided to go down with a partner to motivate myself to complete the task.

Over the Edge

Though I don’t remember her name, me and my partner introduced ourselves and had help getting over the balcony, where we were officially “over the edge.” Slowly, we began to muster up the courage to start rappelling. We started by sitting on the ledge, then standing upright, then squatting with our heels on the building, all guided by the Over the Edge team. With some encouragement and a quick photo, I began walking down the side of the building.

We paused briefly and started slowly rappelling down Boji Tower. The first few steps were fine, but with the heat glaring on my back and the wind blowing, my anxiety crept back in. A bug landing on the wall in front of me intensified my fear. At that moment, I was deep in my fear. My partner was getting closer to the bottom, and I was frozen with fear. The crowd below cheered and screamed my name, encouraging me to keep going. After a brief internal pep talk, I resumed my descent.

Challenges and Triumphs

At 5-foot-2, some parts of the rappel were more challenging than I expected. Scaling ledges and windowsills every few feet, I occasionally lost my footing and swayed back and forth. My Nike VaporMax sneakers, with their cleat-like soles, made regaining my footing harder. Recalling the Over the Edge team’s advice to keep my legs straight and feet on the building, it was challenging gathering myself until I could put my feet back on the building.

Overall, the experience was exhilarating and terrifying. Once I got the hang of rappelling, my nerves mostly settled, and I enjoyed the journey down. The view was amazing, with the sun reflecting off the building, clearly showing the capital building in the windows’ reflection.

Final Thoughts…

It took me longer than my partner to reach the bottom, but once I did, I felt great! The cheers from spectators were rewarding, and having my feet back on the ground felt like a triumph. I felt like I had conquered a fear. After the turbulent past two years, seeing this through felt amazing.

I rappelled down Boji Tower, and I did it scared! If I had the chance, I would rappel again, though I would still be just as nervous.

Check out more images from the event below!

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Let's talk in the comments!

Would you rappel down a building? Have you done "Over the Edge" or something similar?


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