Ypsi nonprofit's fundraiser offers donors chance to rappel down Ann Arbor's Graduate Hotel

Ypsilanti-based nonprofit Friends in Deed will host its second annual Over the Edge fundraiser on Oct. 2. The event will see 60 daredevil participants rappelling down the front of downtown Ann Arbor's 14-story Graduate Hotel. 

Participants must guarantee to raise $1,000 for Friends in Deed by Sept. 15. The money will support the operating costs of Friends In Deed, which provides essential services (such as transportation assistance, basic furniture, and utilities support) to families in need. 

Last year, the inaugural event raised over $110,000. With assistance from event co-hosts Lisa D. Cook, an economics and international relations professor at Michigan State University; and Ken Fischer, president emeritus at UMS, Friends in Deed staff are hoping to raise at least $150,000 this year. 

Last year's event was just "an absolute rousing success," says Sarah Thornburg, executive director of Friends in Deed. She says the fundraiser had initially been scheduled for 2019.  However, when some issues with the building came into play, it was rescheduled for June 2020 and then was delayed again due to COVID-19. 

"By the time we were able to finally do it last October I think people were so ready to get out and do something fun, and they really turned up and showed us they cared about supporting our mission," Thornburg says. 

For almost 40 years, Friends in Deed has worked to fill in gaps in the local social service safety net. This year's fundraiser will support them to help hundreds of families in crisis. 

"You hear all of these things about all this money for housing and all this COVID-19 money, but in between there are people who are dealing with crisis or emergency situations that no big government thing is going to cover," Thornburg says. "That's where we come in."

As a small example, she points to this summer, which saw a couple of weeks of scorching 90-degree weather. Friends in Deed bought many window air conditioning units for community members in need. 

"Imagine those two weeks and what it would have been like to be an elderly person with no air conditioning, or how you would feel if you had a young child with asthma who was having difficulty breathing because of the heat," Thornburg says. 

She's encouraging everyone to sign up for the event. Last year's youngest participant was 13 and the oldest was in her eighties. So far, there are close to 550 donors and over $85,000 has been raised. For more information and to register, click here

Jaishree Drepaul-Bruder is a freelance writer and editor currently based in Ann Arbor. She can be reached at jaishreeedit@gmail.com.

Photo courtesy of Friends in Deed.