On September 18, 2011, I stepped off the edge of the Wit Hotel, 28 stories high, to raise awareness for lung disease. The Skyline Plunge is a one-of-a-kind urban rappel hosted by the Respiratory Health Association of Chicago. The weekend event had 130 brave participants repelling down the building to raise more than $160,000 to support local lung disease research, advocacy and education in Chicago.
It was truly a nerve-racking yet thrilling moment in my life. Unsure what to expect of the rappel, I found that after the first couple of scary steps off the top of the building, you are simply surrounding by the calm...
Looking left and right down State Street felt like I was standing inside the building checking out the breath-taking views, not on the side of the building scaling down it. As you get closer to the ground you can hear the cheers and applause from the spectators knowing that you've accomplished an amazing feat for a great cause.
While I was suspended 278 feet off the ground, I couldn't help but think of my Auntie "Cool" Cornelia who suffers from COPD which is the third leading cause of death in the United States. 12 years ago doctors gave her only 9 years to live...I am happy to say I can still pick up the phone and tell her what I did for her disease. The CDC says 10 million American's have been diagnosed with COPD and an additional 14 million have the disease but are undiagnosed. Not to mention the 14% of households who have a child with asthma and the almost 13% of adults that have been diagnosed with asthma in their lifetime. Because of events like this, we help with research, education and a cure with every breath.
Repelling down the side of a building was never anything I thought I would do but creating awareness for lung health and inspiring others to take a second look is something I would do again and again. Aside from conquering my fear of heights I was thrilled to see so many people committed to an amazing cause and to living a healthy life.