Fearless reporter Natalie North

Don’t think; don’t look down

Annual Drop Zone raises $140,000 for Easter Seals



On a beautiful September afternoon the late summer sun warmed my face.

I’d scored an hour out of the office and the conditions couldn’t have been better, except for the fact that I was balancing on the ledge of the CIBC Building 13 storeys above View Street, not sure if I should laugh or cry or vomit.

I couldn’t choose and froze up instead.

Why does someone uncomfortable with heights decide to rappel down the side of an office building dressed as a gingerbread cookie?

Because when you’re a reporter, beautiful opportunities are handed to you on a regular basis and even when all of your instincts suggest these opportunities will shave decades from your life, you agree to them.

Not because you want to overcome fears or prove anything, but because you love a good story. The penchant toward wearing a costume fit for a tyke is tougher to explain.

With a harness cinched tightly around my core clad in a brown felt jumper with the feet hacked off, I pretended I knew how to navigate the side of building like a pro, and questioned just when my life got so weird.

I was scared, sure, but witnesses have given the most petrified of the drop award to Jason Lamb, radio morning show host from the Zone@91.3.

Lamb, who suggested he was merely the most vocal about his nerves, agreed to participate in the rappel when he was put on the spot live on the air by colleague Pol Plastino. The agreement evoked random pangs of panic for Lamb in the quiet moments leading up to Thursday’s event.

“I was coming up with excuses until I was strapped in the harness,” Lamb said. “I would be going about my day and then it would hit me: this shivery feeling – a cold feeling of doom.”

“I decided as soon as it was my turn to walk the plank of death, just to do it and get it done and out of the way as soon as possible,” Lamb said.

Speeding toward the street without so much as looking down was the same approach taken by Saanich Mayor Frank Leonard, who shares Lamb’s aversion to heights.

While I was systematically inching my running shoes down the concrete and peeking into the office space of kindly executives along the way – who can resist extending a warm smile and wave at a woman dressed as a cookie? – I felt the fast approaching shadow of a stealthy gentleman darting to the ground at what appeared to be breakneck speed.

For Leonard, who was enticed to join the drop just 10 days prior to the event, the rappel was a mission of sheer duty, rather than personal pleasure.

Leonard’s drop was completed with $4,800 in donations raised, landing him the honour of top fundraiser. After the event, the perpetually composed veteran of public events admitted to an overwhelming feeling of relief.

“It’s a thing to strike off the bucket list,” said Craig Heinz, manager of special events for B.C. Lions Society Victoria. “How often do you get to do something like that?”

“There were a lot of people who didn’t think they could do it, who were considering backing out and then they just stepped up to the plate and actually did it,” added Heinz, who also did the rappel. “When they got to the bottom they thought it was fantastic.”

Fantastic is a word I would apply to the situation, despite appearing as a happy, yet terrified Christmas blob in front of my colleagues and friends.

Easter Seals Drop Zone volunteers, sponsors and characters with all kinds of far superior costumes – Bat girls, Super girls, Rainbow Brite, the Star Trek crew, a giant kidney, Daisy the cow – combined their super powers to make this year’s Drop Zone the most successful yet.

Some 60 droppers raised more than $140,000 to benefit Easter Seals on Vancouver Island including Easter Seals House, a home away from home for children and their families who are traveling for medical treatment, and Easter Seals Camp Shawnigan, a fully subsidized and accessible camp for children with disabilities.

nnorth@saanichnews.com

 

 

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