The Tuscaloosa Thread Goes ‘Over the Edge’
Traffic along University Boulevard was fairly sparse early last Saturday morning. The noise was quiet, and clouds covered the sky in a thick overcast.
However, as you approached The Tower Luxury Apartments, you would see what looked to be a fairly large block party.
Crowds of people mixed and mingled, with many staring straight up toward the top of the building in anticipation. If you could get a peek, you could see several long ropes descending down the side of the building, and if you were lucky, you might see people coming down with them.
This was Tuscaloosa Over the Edge: the thrilling finale to the biggest fundraising event of the year for Tuscaloosa Youth for Christ. YFC's mission is to connect unchurched youth through community outreach programs and lively social events.
In partnership with Over the Edge, a nationwide fundraiser for nonprofits, those that raised or neared raising $1,000 for Tuscaloosa YFC earned their spot to rappel off of the tallest building in Tuscaloosa.
That benchmark is set because every $1,000 raised provides 60 teenagers with a YFC mentor for one month.
Over the Edge has come to Tuscaloosa for the past two years, and last year participants raised around $25,000, which although it fell short of their goal, was still seen as a tremendous outpouring of support from the community.
"This was a fantastic year," said Mike Green, Director of Tuscaloosa YFC. "The weather cooperated, which was nice. Over time, we started to see more and more people approach us, interested to see what was going on. Everyone here was so excited to be here."
The Tuscaloosa Thread was invited to cover the event live, and even get in on some of the fun. Speaking firsthand, the ascent to the top of The Tower was nothing short of daunting. With 11 floors straight up, then up a concealed set of stairs, I reached a small door that opened onto an expansive rooftop. With a full 360-degree turn, I could see everything as far as the Black Warrior River's curve and The Old Tavern to Bryant-Denny Stadium and beyond.
I was strapped in an egregious amount of harnesses and ropes but was nonetheless thankful for each and every one. With my feet posed on the edge of the rooftop and my heels dangling over 100 feet above the ground, I leaned back and started my descent.
I slowly made my way down the building, taking the time to admire the incomparable view all around me.
I took note of the excitement on the ground below. Dozens of onlookers cheered – partly because of the thrill of the feat, but I'm sure a good portion of the buzz was the sense of accomplishment those involved with YFC felt finally able to see this come to fruition again.
"In light of COVID, I'd say this is a very successful event," Green told The Thread, once I was safely on the ground again. "Hopefully next year, we can bring more people in, and have an even bigger event on the ground too, one that's open to the community."
This year, Tuscaloosa YFC surpassed their earnings from last year, netting roughly $28,000 and 45 participants.