Oct. 22, 2015
In support of Special Olympics, PR professor rappels down Richmond skyscraper
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As part of a fundraising event for Special Olympics of Virginia over the weekend, Virginia Commonwealth University faculty member Hailey Spencer rappelled 25 stories down from the roof of the SunTrust Center in downtown Richmond.
Spencer, who teaches public relations in the Richard T. Robertson School of Media and Culture in the College of Humanities and Sciences, was invited to take part in the Over the Edge event, in which participants who raise money in support of the Special Olympics of Virginia are given the opportunity to rappel down the skyscraper.
Heights are my biggest fear so rappelling down the SunTrust building was conquering my Everest.
"It was terrifying!" Spencer said, laughing. "The pictures don't show it but I was crying a little at the top of the building. Heights are my biggest fear so rappelling down the SunTrust building was conquering my Everest."
Spencer is teaching a service-learning course this semester that involves her students developing public relations solutions for the Special Olympics of Virginia, focusing on strategies to encourage millennials to volunteer with the organization.
Many of the students in the class volunteered at the Over the Edge event, and cheered as Spencer rappelled down the building.
"My students being the spectacular group that they are decided to give up a few hours on their Saturday to volunteer for the event," she said. "From speaking with the volunteer director at SOVA, she said that my 20 students' volunteer hours helped tremendously and made the entire event more efficient."
The night before the Over the Edge event, the Special Olympics of Virginia asked Spencer if she'd like to take part. Despite her fear of heights, she said, Spencer was excited for the opportunity.
"It was an amazing opportunity," she said. "My students are amazing and they are doing fantastic work. The event ended up raising about $100,000 which isn't possible without the support of volunteers."
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