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June 7 2010 12:00 AM

Kent A. Love has a story to tell about dropping down 23 stories



    MomentofTruth.jpg


    “Life is not measured by the breaths you take, but by
    its breathtaking moments.”


    In a momentary lapse of judgment – or was it inspiration, I
    agreed to jump from the tallest skyscraper in the city, the Boji Tower.The thing about towers is they’re tall — 23 stories, to be precise. Technically, it’s called rappelling, but for someone with a fear of heights and no previous
    experience descending without assistance from an elevator, I was preparing to
    plummet to the cold hard concrete below.


    Why did I agree to participate?One of the best moments of my life — my wedding reception — occurred
    on the 22nd floor of that very building.Plus, I wasn’t getting any younger.I was going “over the edge,” but also “over the hill” with
    my Big 4-0.Perhaps more importantly, the event raised money for a good
    cause.The Team Foundation, a division
    of the Greater Lansing Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB), promotes tourism
    development and provides scholarships to students pursuing hospitality and
    tourism careers.They’re doing wonderful
    work to make our community a better place to live, work and play.I guess you could say my reasoning was
    one part charity, one part nostalgia, and one part mid-life crisis — a lethal
    combination!


    The day of the descent started like any other: shower,
    shave, a light breakfast.What to
    wear?Time warp back to the ‘80s
    in a pair of parachute pants?It
    couldn’t hurt to have a backup chute just in case.No, a red, white and blue Superman t-shirt would suffice.Can’t go wrong with All-American
    superhero!



    I was assured the brief training session prior to my descent
    would prepare me.In the months
    preceding the event, everyone kept asking about my big jump.“It’s
    a rappel, not a jump,” I would calmly correct - the mere thought sending terror
    through every bone in my body.


    After signing my life away, I was fitted with a full-body harness,
    helmet and gloves.A quick equipment
    briefing – carabiner,
    ascender, and most importantly, the breaking system simply called a descender,
    and I was ready for my training rappel down one story of the inside
    stairwell.One story I could
    handle!Everything seemed to work
    as planned, other than remembering to keep my right hand loose next to my hip
    to feed the rope. Check!


    L1030790.jpgOnce I reached the platform, a crew member rechecked my
    equipment and connected my harness to the lines.(Yes, I checked the ropes for frays.)After a nervous wave to family and
    friends below, over went my left leg, followed by my right leg. The crew member calming instructed me to
    let go of the railing and lean back.WHAT?LET GO AND LEAN
    BACK?ARE YOU MAD?
    Without
    a doubt, the most terrifying moment was hanging from the side of the building
    and being asked to “let go and lean back.”


    I knew my best defense against the fear was to trust the
    equipment and believe in myself.I
    slowly released my death grip, leaned back and shifted my weight into the
    harness.Step by small step, I started
    rappelling down the side of a 23-story building.



    Truth be told, I was terrified, but extreme sports are about
    pushing your limits and living life to its fullest.I dug deep and found the courage to enjoy the moment.Looking side to side was breathtaking.Looking down was another matter entirely.


    As I continued my descent, I found my terror transformed
    into total exhilaration.I was
    doing it!I was facing my fear -
    just me, all alone hanging off the side of a building!Halfway through my rappel, I told
    myself to simply live in the moment and savor the rush of adrenaline.I was overcome with personal
    pride.Not the boastful kind of pride
    that requires an audience and accolades, but rather a deep inner conquest over
    a part of me that was holding back.


    Was it worth it?Yes.Did I conquer my fear
    of heights?Probably not.But the experience has stirred in me a
    desire to face more fears, take more risks, and live life more fully.Sometimes reaching a goal isn’t about
    taking a leap of faith.It’s more like rappelling off a tall
    tower — one small step after another until you’re on solid ground and better
    prepared for whatever comes next!


    Thank you to my friends and family for
    helping me reach my goal as a top fundraiser.Thank you also to the Lansing Team Foundation, the Greater
    Lansing Convention & Visitors Bureau, and the crew of Over The Edge for
    making it all possible.