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18 stories above the pavement

Spotlight reporter Alyssa Jung rappelled down the side of the Crowne Plaza in the Over the Edge fundraiser for the Special Olympics on Friday, Sept. 16.

Spotlight reporter Alyssa Jung rappelled down the side of the Crowne Plaza in the Over the Edge fundraiser for the Special Olympics on Friday, Sept. 16. Photo by John Purcell.

— On Friday, Sept. 16, downtown Albany was beautiful. The sun was glinting off the plaza and the Capitol building was speckled with lingering rays of sunshine.

Unfortunately for me, I was struggling to take in the metropolitan beauty since I was standing on a ledge 18 stories above a very hard concrete street as part of the Special Olympics fundraiser Over the Edge, in which participants rappel down the side of the Crowne Plaza.

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Over the Edge

Spotlight reporter Alyssa Jung scales down the side of the Crowne Plaza in Albany on Friday, Sept. 16. The event, "Over the Edge," challenges participants to raise $1,000 for Special Olympics for the chance to rappel.

Spotlight reporter Alyssa Jung scales down the side of the Crowne Plaza in Albany on Friday, Sept. 16. The event, "Over the Edge," challenges participants to raise $1,000 for Special Olympics for the chance to rappel.

“Just rock your heels off the ledge and lean back as far as you can go,” said my Over the Edge instructor.

Sure, no problem, right? I like to suspend myself above State Street for fun all the time.

“Are you sure these ropes will hold me? Are you sure I won’t slip out of this harness? I’m pretty small. Wait, you’re pushing on my feet, stop. Don’t make me laugh, this is not a laughing matter,” I said in between gasps for breath and sighs of “Oh Lord.”

After my very patient instructors (who were visibly amused by my spastic reaction) convinced me that everything was in working order and there was a radio attached to me if I got stuck, I finally started walking myself down the brick hotel wall.

It was a long way down. At first, it wasn’t so bad. The gadget I squeezed to lower myself wasn’t releasing rope too fast or too slow and the Over the Edgers above me were urging me to “smile for the camera” and take in the scenery (I did the first request, passed on the second).

Then my squeezing hand started burning with exhaustion, getting so weak I needed a rest and had to stop and just chill 12 stories in the air. That wasn’t great since I had time to think and my thoughts went a little like this:

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