PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – What would possess someone to go to the top of one of the tallest buildings in Pittsburgh, walk to the edge, then rappel down?
It was to raise money in the fight against cancer. For some of the participants, it was personal.
Why else would they close a busy downtown Pittsburgh Street and start playing loud music? How else can you explain dozens of people looking to the top of the Kopper’s Building and taking pictures?
Pete Test has a simple explanation: “It’s not every day you come down to the city to watch your daughter jump off a building.”
His daughter Olivia Test was one of the participants in this year’s Over The Edge fundraiser for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of Western Pennsylvania. Volunteers raised money by willingly rappelling down the side of the 22-story building.
Olivia says she agreed to do it for her dad Pete who is battling lymphoma for the second time.
“It was amazing. It was so much fun,” says the younger Test.
“Going down, looking down I was a little nervous. It was for a great cause so I was happy to do it.”
It is an annual fundraiser in the battle against various types of blood cancer. The Leukemia Lymphoma Society of Western PA Woman of the Year is Kathy Mazzei.
Even though she says her kids were not crazy about her taking the plunge Friday morning, she knew she had to do it for cancer patients.
“That’s what the research money goes to, so I think just with this ‘Over The Edge’ event, in one day, we will raise over $80,000.”
Tina Thompson with the LLS of Western PA says in many ways, the rappellers get a sense of what a cancer patient goes through.
“It’s so scary, and it’s so nerve-wracking, and then they succeed,” said Thompson.
“That’s kind of like a cancer patient’s journey. Diagnosis is so scary, and you are fearful and you take the leap of faith, and then your feet are on the ground and you made it.”
Are all the people who signed up to strap into a harness and hold on to their ropes daredevils and thrill-seeker? Hardly.
The one thing they do have in common is a desire to beat cancer.
Granted, there were some like Brandon Airgood who jumped at the chance to rappel down the side of the Kopper’s Building. “Basically it is free, so it’s a cheap thrill.”
Pete Test sat in his wheelchair across the street from the Kopper’s Building and watched his daughter descend. He says he was over the moon that his daughter chose to go Over The Edge.
“She’s my world,” said Test as he looked up at his daughter. “They’ve been great support. I couldn’t have done this without them. I’m still here.”
And hopefully the money raised by these volunteers helps researchers get over the edge in finding a cure for cancer.