Rappelling may not be part of the everyday job description for a police officer in Wilton, but for Officer Diane MacLean it was something she did to support a Connecticut Special Olympics “Over The Edge” fundraising event in Stamford. She, along with approximately twenty other participants, rappelled down the side of a 16-story building in Stamford on Sept. 12.
She was initially hesitant to take part in the event. In an email to GOOD Morning Wilton Ofc. MacLean wrote, “I’m incredibly afraid of heights so this was a tremendous undertaking for me! When the Special Olympics assembled for their ‘kick off’ meeting, we are presented with ideas on how to raise money for the organization for the coming year. Every year Wilton organizes a “Tip a Cop” at the local Outback restaurant but I wanted to do something different. When the rappelling was explained my first reaction was, ‘No way!” One of my Sergeants participated last year. I must admit I signed up for it hoping to get donations just under the $1,000.00 entrance fee so I didn’t have to do it, but the more I thought about it the more I found myself wanting to overcome this fear of heights! My thought process was, if these athletes can overcome their obstacles, and not even see them as obstacles, then so can I!”
MacLean did received donations which allowed her to meet the $1,000 entrance fee. After being fitted with a harness and heading up to the roof, she received instructions on how to go “Over The Edge.”
“The coordinators were professional, competent and made me feel as comfortable as possible. When it was time to go ‘over the edge’ I was a bit apprehensive and asked if I could sit on the ledge first, before standing. They were very accommodating. As I stood up and they told me to put my feet on the edge and slowly sit back as if I was sitting on a swing, well, I got a little nervous but excited as well. Then, it was all me. I lowered myself by feeding the rope at my own speed and the descent began. I LOVED IT. I took my time, enjoyed the view, even ventured to look down a few times!!!” MacLean wrote.
MacLean, who had no previous experience in rappelling, said she is already looking forward to participating in the next Special Olympics fundraiser rappelling event.
“At the bottom I heard applause and cheers and even took a picture with an athlete. What a great day! Next year I’m going for the higher building-Mohegan Sun Hotel! It’s impossible to not be inspired by these athletes to accomplish things you never thought you could!!”
According to the Wilton Police Department’s website, there is a more than thirty year relationship between Special Olympics and law enforcement throughout the United States. Most publicly, police departments in all 50 states as well as more than 30 countries run the Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics, “an international series of torch relays run by law enforcement officers, leading up to each state or nation’s Special Olympics Summer Games. Law enforcement officers raise money in conjunction with their respective Torch Runs for their local Special Olympics programs.”