Local charity reaches new heights, fundraising goal


Photo by Anastasia Thumser '22

Ed Finnigan prepares to remove his harness after rappelling the People’s United Bank in Bridgeport, Connecticut.

Witnessing individuals scale down a bank while walking around town may look frightening and, at the least, unusual. For registered rappellers, however, braving a height of sixteen stories was a charitable adventure. 

“Over the Edge” was held for the second time on Sept. 14, and 75 participants rappelled off the 248-foot high People’s United Bank headquarters in Bridgeport, Connecticut to raise funds for the Wakeman Boys and Girls Club

The event, which included food trucks, a DJ, an announcer, and costume-clad volunteers raised $156,045 in total. The organization serves 3,400 teenagers and children annually and offers 100 programs in three priority outcome areas (Wakeman Boys and Girls Club). 

“Wakeman is a very good cause. It supports children of Bridgeport [and] Fairfield, and my family has been going there since the ’60s,” Patty O’Donnell, rappeler and eighth-most-generous donator said. “Plus, when would you ever get the chance to rappel? I’m not going to make it to The Amazing Race, so this was my amazing race.”  

Jason Fields attends Fairfield Warde High School and volunteered at the Wakeman Boys and Girls club for the past year. He took part in “Over the Edge” to escort participants and assist with videography for social media. 

“It seemed like an interesting event to help with. I know that people that [run the event], and it’s fascinating to see a fundraiser involve this much risk,” he said. Fields found the event to foster a sense of community in addition to being a good cause.  

The company that runs “Over the Edge” supports non-profit organizations by operating rappelling fundraising events. Their average event raises over $100,000, and they have helped nonprofits around the world raise over $88 million since 2008. 

Tom Mindrum, who has been a Wakeman Board of Trustees member for over thirty years, said the annual event is one of the most popular and beneficial additions to the Boys and Girls Club. 

“[Over the Edge] is such a great event, because it gets all these people out to see what’s going on,” he said. “We have a beautiful banner that publicizes the club, and it’s a great way to draw attention to the good work that Wakeman is doing.”

The Wakeman Boys and Girls Club is focused on the youth, and they are dedicated to academic success, healthy lifestyles, and leadership. 

“Wakeman does so much for so many kids,” Laura Magnotta, Unit Director of the club, said. “Our core programs surround things like college readiness programs, sports, cooking classes, and community service Keystone national programs. Everything that we do at the boys and girls club will hopefully lend itself to [the creation] of productive adults in our society.”

“[The club] serves so many communities, and ‘Over the Edge’ is a great program,” Patty O’Donnell said. “If parents want to get their kids involved, take them to the Boys and Girls Club. There are so many great programs and opportunities the club has to offer.”