Last fall the men rappelled down 22 stories of the PNC Center in downtown Akron, along with 60 others, helping to raise more than $146,000 to support Hattie Larlham’s mission.
We asked them to share with us why this organization is close to their hearts, and whether it’s really less scary if you don’t look down.
Q: Why is Hattie Larlham important to you both?
DR. MCGREGOR: Hattie provides amazing care to patients – most of whom we have touched as they move from children to adults with special needs. It is a wonderful organization serving an important role.
SHAWN: I’ve had a connection with Hattie for nearly 20 years. It is a very special organization that provides specialized services to a very vulnerable population. Hattie is also an innovator in its field.
Q: Do you rappel with others or individually? Do you prefer to go earlier or later in the order and why?
SHAWN: Two rappel at a time, but it’s definitely not a team sport. Last year I was so focused on what I was doing I had no idea someone else was on the building. I prefer to go early so I’m not sitting around for too long feeling anxious.
Q: How often do you rappel?
DR. MCGREGOR: I’m not crazy about heights so I don’t routinely rappel. Last year was only the second time I rappelled in my life. My first time was during my pediatric residency at a summer camp for diabetics. One of my campers had an emergency while rappelling and I had to rappel to provide care.
Q: How hard is it to take that first step over the edge?
DR. MCGREGOR: It’s pretty frightening but the on-site training and supervision gave me confidence that safety is built in. I trade my fear for trust.
SHAWN: The first step is the hardest part. You feel like you will fall until you realize you’re in a very secure harness.
Q: Is it true it’s less scary if you don’t look down?
DR. MCGREGOR: Yes! I just looked into the face of the facilitators at the top. After the first step, looking down was awesome. Akron is really pretty from that vantage.
SHAWN: I have no idea because I looked down. I couldn’t help myself.
Q: Since this event last year, have you taken the opportunity to do other daring pursuits?
DR. MCGREGOR: While not really that daring, this summer I did a few 50- and 75-mile cycling events.
SHAWN: No, I do this for charity. I’m otherwise not very daring in my personal pursuits.
Q: Do you have a favorite memory from doing this last year?
DR. MCGREGOR: I received my roof-top training with 2 other guys – one dressed as Spiderman – so we had some interesting photo opportunities.
SHAWN: Just the overall buzz at the event. There was a tremendous amount of excitement and energy. I remember being so pleased for Hattie Larlham that the inaugural event was such a big success.
Q: What would you say to others in the community who may be thinking about participating?
DR. MCGREGOR: This event is safe and a definite adrenaline rush. I say go for it. It’s for a great cause and you can cross it off your bucket list.
SHAWN: Go for it. You get to support a great cause and accomplish something special personally, a real win-win.
Q: If you could pick anywhere in the world to rappel besides the concrete jungle of downtown Akron, where would your dream spot be?
DR. MCGREGOR: I don’t know if it is feasible and I would have to have this safety team along with me, but there is an amazing cliff side next to a beautiful waterfall at the end of the Hanakap’ai Trail in Kauai, one of my favorite challenging hikes.
SHAWN: Probably a mountain in the western U.S. I rappelled one other time in my life in Seneca Rocks, WV, while in college. I remember the beauty and peacefulness of the area more than I remember the actual rappelling. My only condition would be having the support of an expert team like we do with Over the Edge.