People will propel down a building to benefit Wakeman Boys & Girls Club

FAIRFIELD — Fundraising for the Wakeman Boys & Girls Club is going Over The Edge, literally.

On Oct. 16, the Southport organization will partner with Over the Edge, a company that specializes in raising money for non-profits, to provide an opportunity for at least 75 individuals to rappel down the side of People’s United Bank Corporate Headquarters in Bridgeport.

The fundraiser is a continuation of the same event in 2018 and in 2019, however, after the 2020 event was postponed, Wakeman’s is back for more.

“I first found out about the event when I reviewed the organizers permit to have it,” said Brian Fitzgerald, a Bridgeport Police captain and one of this year’s rappellers. “When I spoke to the event organizers, I commented that I have a background and training in rope rescue and asked if they needed any more people to rappel.”

“The Boys & Girls Club is a great program and I wanted to help if I could,” he added.

Back in 2018, one of the board members of the boys and girls club heard about Over the Edge and their urban rappelling fundraiser and thought it would be a unique fundraiser to do. It just so happens Over the Edge was seeking a new non-profit organization to partner with in the area.

Gina Luczaj, director of community engagement at Wakeman Boys & Girls Club, said the “stars aligned” and plans were put into place to create the fundraiser.

In the first year, the new event hit the group’s goal of raising $120,000 and the second year also proved to be quite successful.

“It was growing,” Luczaj said. “The first year being new and exciting was the most successful. The second year was right along with it. We got a lot of sponsorships and we were able to reach more businesses in Fairfield and Bridgeport.”

Luczaj said that along with COVID and postponing, the event is lower on rappellers this year than in years before. The Boys & Girls club also had to readjust its fundraising goal. This year, the organization is seeking to raise $112,000.

“This year it is a little bit hard with COVID and it has been postponed twice so, I think the people are just waiting to see if it will happen this time and it is,” she said.

As of Wednesday, the event had received 140 donations from 126 donors. It has raised $60,515 so far, 54 percent of the goal.

“After the first year, some people were very scared and did it. I think I was one of them. I didn’t know I was really scared until I got up there,” Luczaj said. “It’s either two extremes. It’s either ‘Heck yeah that’s fun’ or people say ‘No way I’m so scared of heights.’ Over the Edge is amazing. They know exactly how to handle any kind of rappeller whether they are scared or excited so its very reassuring.”

In order to participate, rappellers have to raise a minimum of $1,000 for the organization. This year, the organization is also allowing students to participate. Students have to raise $500 in order to do it.

The money raised from the event will go into the Boys & Girls Club’s annual fund, which Luczaj said is essentially the general operating fund. The club’s operating fund is about $3 million and 60 percent of it has to be raised through donations and grants, such as this rappelling fundraiser.

Luczaj said this event is a “once in a lifetime opportunity.”

“You wont regret it,” she said.