This year Darlene and I were fortunate to have a superhero in our circle of friends. Debra Stockwell, the wife of Ray Stockwell, drummer for Winnipeg’s 60′s rock band The Jury. Debra like us, tries every year to do one big charity drive and a few months ago she began raising funds for the Easter Seals Drop Zone Challenge. For a minimum of $1500 raised she would get to do something incredible. Namely repel down the side of a 17 story building located on the windiest corner in Canada Portage and Main.
When we arrived on the day of the repel the wind was howling though the urban landscape and must have been truly vicious at the top of the Royal Bank building. The normally vertical repelling lines were becoming pendulums sending the brave souls attached to them four or five windows over from their assigned drop lane.
Mingling with the crowd and looking for our friend Debra and her husband Ray I began to notice a certain trend among the brave souls who were going to go over the edge. Costumes seemed to be the order of the day, many superheros were prevalent but not exclusively. Some people wore Hawaiian shirts complete with coconut bras. Others like our friend Deb became their favorite television personalities, she chose to become geek extraordinaire Sheldon Cooper from The Big Bang Theory.
As the time drew close Debra introduced us to her drop companion Jodie Brown who would be going down at the same time on another line, she was clad from head to booties as a hilarious looking sock monkey. Both women were incredibly pumped up about the opportunity. Deb confessed to having slight butterflies in her belly and being scared of heights. But if you know anything about Debra you know that she always faces her fears head on and was super impressed by all the safety precautions that Drop Zone had taken.
Her drop partner Jodie was equally pumped to go over the edge and confessed that she had a love for heights and planned to do a few tricks on the way down even though she was a first timer.
In the final minutes before the women were to be taken up they were offered one last opportunity to practice their skills on a set of scaffolding that was set up in the staging area. Both Deb and Jodie excelled at the task, even managing to stand in a full horizontal position 90 degrees to the wall they were practicing on.
The escort had arrived finally and it was time to go big or go home. Deb and Jodie were full of smiles and laughter as they were taken to the building apparently ready to face certain death in the hopes of helping the Easter Seals Foundation.
Debra was the first one over the edge and looked a little shaky at first apparently having tripped on a piece of carpeting the organizers had placed over the concrete ledge. But seconds later she regained control and was steadily working her gear and showed great form in her decent. The winds, she later told us were indeed fierce during the decent. Blowing her off the drop path many times and stirring up the butterflies in her stomach again. But being the trooper she always is, she quickly learned to adapt her drop style and was soon trucking on down again.
Jodie appeared on the ledge when Deb was about half way down. I could instantly see that sock monkey tail and blue cape flapping in the wild Winnipeg wind. True to her word Jodie seemed fearless in her decent, seemingly unfazed by being blown around like a leaf in a gale. I gasped when she stopped and flipped upside down midway to have a better look around and a wave at the crowd. Crazy woman indeed!
In the end both Debra and Jodie made it down in spectacular fashion. Stopping and raising an “I DID IT” sign for everyone to see.
Back at the staging areas it was a mob scene, with high fives and thumbs up all around. The big winner was Easter Seals raising close to $200,000 in donations for the cause.
Way to go Deb, Jodie and everyone else who raised funds or supported the cause. You’re all superheros to Winnipeg.