Greater Harrisburg's Community Magazine

Ready to rappel? Big Brothers Big Sisters will strap you in for a good cause.

It’s a long way down, but a great view, as a police officer goes “Over the Edge” during last year’s event.

If you’ve ever wondered what Harrisburg looks like from the top of an 18-story building, Capital Region’s Big Brothers Big Sisters can give you a bird’s-eye view of the city this October.

For a third year, supporters of the nonprofit will rappel down the Market Square Plaza building as part of their “Over the Edge” fundraiser in which participants raise $1,000 to lower themselves down the entire 220-foot-tall building.

“We’ve got a couple of people who have done it year after year, and those are individuals who truly believe in the mission,” said Krystina Shultz, the organization’s communications and marketing manager. “They’re really focused on supporting Big Brothers Big Sisters and supporting the kids in the program.”

This year, the fundraising goal is $100,000. A maximum of 76 participants each must raise a minimum of $1,000 to rappel, or the rough cost of the typical school-based match. In school-based matches, mentors engage with their mentees at school.

On the day of the event, two participants will rappel down the building at a time. Over the Edge technicians equip participants with an industrial harness and an industrial descender, allowing climbers to lower themselves down with the lever-like device. Typically, participants take 10 to 20 minutes to reach the ground, depending on whether they can brave the height to enjoy the view.

“I would say that this is probably simpler than rock climbing because the setup is intended for beginners, so you basically lower yourself with a lever,” Shultz said. “You determine your own speed.”

Fundraisers are encouraged to go above and beyond. After raising $1,200, participants can choose the song they rappel to. At $1,500, they receive a hot-and-cold branded tumbler. If they raise $2,000, they will receive an Over the Edge quarter-zip jacket.

Volunteers can be individual fundraisers or part of a corporation’s efforts. Adults who mentor with Big Brothers Big Sisters, or “bigs,” also frequently participate, including many police officers who are part of the “Bigs in Blue” program, in which local police officers mentor young people.

Corporations can also sponsor rappelers. One of the most popular corporate sponsorships is “Toss Your Boss,” in which companies nominate a top employee to go “over the edge.” A company can also sponsor a police officer from a local department to make the descent.

“We’ve never had anybody who has chickened out,” Shultz said. “Everyone is doing it because they are excited to support Big Brothers Big Sisters and check an adventure off their bucket list.

But if you don’t want to rappel down 18 stories, there are other ways to show your support. The community is welcome to donate to sponsor participants, volunteer at the event or come out and cheer rappelers on. A DJ and information stands will be at street level for spectators to enjoy.

“We really want to make sure anyone can join the fun and excitement on the ground. We welcome everyone to stop by, dance with us and the DJ and support the brave rappelers,” said Angela Linton, the organization’s events and engagement manager.

In the months leading up to the event, Big Brothers Big Sisters hosts meet-and-greet activities for participants to feel more comfortable with both Over the Edge and each other.

“The meet and greets are a great way to meet fellow ‘Edgers’ as well as network with other event volunteers or participants,” Linton said. “It’s all part of the fun.”

“Over the Edge” take place on Friday, Oct. 18, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., at the Market Square Plaza Building, 17 N. 2nd St., Harrisburg. Two lanes of N. 2nd Street will be closed from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. to allow for spectators to watch the event. For more information, visit

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