WILMINGTON — Patrick Tiernan found a unique way to celebrate his birthday.
The principal of St. Mary Magdalen School in north Wilmington stepped out onto the roof of 300 Delaware Avenue in downtown Wilmington on May 11, more than 220 feet above the sidewalk. He was there with 97 others to go Over the Edge, a rappelling event that raises money for Special Olympics Delaware.
As he stood with his harness and safety equipment on, he explained what got him to descend 17 stories down the side of a building — for the third time.
“We’ve done a lot with Special Olympics,” he said of the St. Mary Magdalen community. “This year, our 3v3 basketball tournament supported Special Olympics, and we have a lot of board members, faculty who support Special Olympics. A few years ago, students challenged me to do it, and I’ve come back every year since.”
It was the culmination of a busy week for Tiernan.
“In the past week, I’ve gone in the dunk tank, had my head shaved because our students read 30 million words, and now I’m jumping off buildings,” he said.
Some public school districts had multiple “edgers,” but Tiernan said the rest of the St. Mary Magdalen crew was busy at school. He thought they might be watching the livestream.
This is not the highest point from which Tiernan has descended. He once bungee-jumped off a hotel in Las Vegas, falling nearly 900 feet.
“That was just for fun,” he said. “This is for a great cause and a great community. Glad to do it.”
Once he reached terra firma, the spectators on the sidewalk serenaded him with “Happy Birthday.”
This was the 12th annual Over the Edge in Delaware. Jon Buzby, the director of media relations for Special Olympics Delaware, said Over the Edge has been presented 272 times globally and has raised more than $25 million, of that $1.6 million being in Delaware. More than 10,000 people have participated.
This year, 60 of the 98 participants in Delaware were rappelling for the first time. Each had to raise $1,100 for Special Olympics to take part. The event sold out this year for the first time. Over the Edge takes place on the second Thursday of every May. Registration for next year and more information is available at www.sode.org.
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