There is a point when rappelling off an 11-story building turns fun.
That's not at the beginning.
Even the pizza that greeted me Tuesday morning on the 11th floor of the Hotel Blackhawk in Davenport wasn't appetizing, and I'm from Chicago.
I didn't want to lose it on my way down.
Special Olympics is sponsoring an event today at the hotel with help from the thrill-seeking folks at Over the Edge.
Jeanette Steinfeldt, development director for Special Olympics Iowa, said there will be 35 participants who have raised $30,000 for the privilege of scaling down from the roof of the hotel. The money will support Special Olympics in Iowa and Illinois.
Organizers needed a few of us on Tuesday to warm up the ropes.
So I gave high-fives to Bill Gustafson, general manager of Rhythm City Casino in Davenport, and Lynnanne Nguyen, a KWQC-TV6 reporter, and the three of us got suited up.
"You'll have a blast," Hal Pittman, president and CEO of Special Olympics Iowa, said.
Neither Nguyen nor I have ever rappelled off anything. Gustafson, who served in the U.S. Marines, said he rappelled off a smaller building in boot camp. But when I saw that even he was getting nervous, I admit I was getting scared.
Here are a few facts about Blackhawk, just to build the suspense. Built in 1915, it's the fifth-tallest building in Davenport at about 140 feet from roof to sidewalk.
That's 13 feet taller than the American Eagle wooden roller coaster at Six Flags Great America near Chicago. As a kid, that's the one I was scared to death to go on with my dad but did so anyway because he made me do it.
The one thing everyone kept saying on Tuesday: Don't look down when you first go over the edge.
They told me to empty my pockets. Sorry, no selfies. I couldn't have my iPhone up there.
They did strap a GoPro camera to my helmet.
After the harness, straps and buckles, I was ready for my crash course in foolishness. No, my wife and my mother did not endorse this activity.
We got to the roof, where a man named Glenn Segrest, who is with Over the Edge, greeted us with a sense of humor.
I was chewing gum, and I asked Segrest, who said he rappelled 876 feet off the New River Gorge Bridge near Fayetteville, W.Va., if it's OK to chew gum on my way down. He said yeah, as long as I don't chew and walk at the same time.
I put a lot of faith in a tripod and two ropes. The tripod was mounted near the edge of the roof.
Segrest hooked me to the ropes that dangled from the tripod. I then stepped up onto the ledge and turned with my back to the street far below.
I clasped the ropes as I leaned back. Fear and excitement began to swirl even more as I started to look around while leaning farther and farther.
With my feet still on the edge of the roof, I cocked my head to look down against everyone's advice. A bunch of ant-sized people were waving at me.
I let out a "Whoo!"
Segrest was trying to tell me something like "watch out for the glass," but by that point, I had tuned everything out but the adrenalin.
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After my body was leaning 45 degrees, I started taking baby steps down the outer brick wall of the hotel. The first step seemed like the heaviest.
My right hand grabbed one rope against my back jeans pocket. My left squeezed a lever that controlled how fast I was rappelling. The more I squeezed, the faster I dropped. If I let go, I would stop.
Yes, they told me it's OK to let go of the ropes.
The fear of anticipation subsided, and as my confidence grew, I actually started having a fun time.
I waved to schoolchildren standing outside the RiverCenter. I waved to a couple of women looking out a hotel window.
I let go of the ropes a few times and stretched out my arms. As I got closer to the bottom, I even felt brave enough to kick myself away from the building and swing through the air.
I must have said "awesome" a dozen times.
It's not everyday one gets to walk down the side of a building. Give me a harness and a couple of ropes and I'll do it again, especially if it's for charity.
Reaching the bottom, Davenport Police Capt. Paul Sikorski unbuckled me and said, "Congratulations."
A young woman from Special Olympics handed me a carnation and gave me a hug, saying, "Thank you."
Really, Special Olympics deserves the thanks.