A young boy looks on as Batman repels down the CIBC building on View Street for the Make a Wish Foundation’s Rope for Hope event. Nicole Crescenzi/VICTORIA NEWS

Victoria heroes rappel 15 storeys for the Make-A-Wish Foundation

Over $60,000 raised at city’s first Rope for Hope event

It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s … well, actually it’s over 40 heroes rappelling down the CIBC building on View Street for the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

For the first time, the national Rope for Hope event took place in Victoria May 23 and 24, which let volunteers and prolific community members rappel down 15 storeys to raise money for sick kids.

There were superheroes in full costume and others wearing neon shirts.

“It was amazing,” said Melissa Gillespie, adding that she wasn’t scared at all. “I went to Stelly’s, so I grew up rock climbing.”

Her friend, Hayley Van Nerum, was a little more hesitant.

“I’ve been bungee jumping before, but it was nothing like this,” she said. “It was scary and I was shaking; the hardest part was going over the edge.”

Hayley Van Nerum (left) and Melissa Gillespie repelled down the CIBC building on View Street to raise money for The Make-A-Wish Foundation’s “Rope for Hope” event. Nicole Crescenzi/VICTORIA NEWS

Van Nerum said she could get over the edge because Gillespie was beside her. As she was standing on the ground, still shaking, she laughed and said she kind of wanted to do it again.

In order to climb down the building, volunteers needed to raise a minimum of $1,500, but no additional experience is required. Make-A-Wish Foundation Vancouver Island director Simone Conner said the goal was to raise $50,000, but by midday Thursday they were already well over $64,000.

“It’s been a huge success; the community in Victoria is very caring and giving and they want to be engaged,” she said, sporting a Batgirl costume. “Make-A-Wish grants almost 25 per cent of all wishes in B.C. and the Yukon to Vancouver Island children, so we are very active here.”

Conner didn’t always work for Make-A-Wish; she started volunteering after her son, then 12, received a wish after he was diagnosed with neurofibromatosis, a genetic disorder that causes tumors to form on nerve tissue. He got to meet Washington Capitals’ captain, Alex Ovechkin.

“It was life changing,” Conner said. “It came at a time when he lost hope and strength. He was angry that he was sick and tired. It restored hope, strength and joy.”

After the meeting with Ovechkin, she turned to a Capitals’ coach and promised to help grant as many wishes as she could, not knowing she’d end up getting a job. Her son is still an active hockey fan, and Conner’s position at the Foundation has given her a light, too.

“It’s turned my pain into purpose,” she said.

The Make-A-Wish Foundation has other events coming up on the Island, including a Film Fest in Nanaimo on June 9 and a Fashion for a Wish event at Victoria’s Moxie’s Restaurant on June 14.

To learn more or to make a donation, you can go to makeawishbc.ca/vancouver-island.

nicole.crescenzi@vicnews.com

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