On an August day in Winnipeg, John Tanner had breakfast, made his way to the CREIT building at 220 Portage Avenue, took the elevator to the top and rappelled down the outside of the tower. This may seem like an unusual thing to do for just about anyone.
John rappelled in a wheelchair.
John was one of several people with disabilities across Canada to participate in Easter Seals Drop Zone, a nation-wide event that raised more than $900,000 last summer for people with disabilities. Easter Seals is getting ready once again for a summer of Drop Zones across the country.
Participants, who are referred to as “Drop Zone Superheroes,” contribute at least $1,500 donated by family, friends and colleagues to rappel down the side of an office building. Many superheroes even dress the part, showing up in Spider-Man, Wonder Woman, and Batman and Robin outfits.
The Drop Zone is perfectly suited for Easter Seals. Our friends and members really enjoy challenging themselves and getting out of their comfort zone. Just as kids with disabilities overcome perceived obstacles when they attend an Easter Seals summer camp, so will Drop Zone participants this summer.
Easter Seals delivers a variety of programs and services across the country including the provision of mobility equipment and services, hospice care and recreational activities, to name a few. Each year, over 40,000 people with disabilities access these services. However, our best-known program is our summer camps. Easter Seals camps are located throughout the country. Fully accessible, they offer campers a safe place to learn about themselves and the possibilities of their abilities. The kids and youth engage in a number of activities, including horseback riding, a high ropes course, a giant swing, rock climbing, sledge hockey and dancing.
The Drop Zone fundraising efforts contribute significantly towards our camp experience.
Patrick Reyes, a former Easter Seals camper, now works in the IT department of an aviation software engineering and education firm in Brampton, Ontario. He is passionate about promoting people’s abilities, including his own.
When Patrick’s sister told him about the Drop Zone, he was intrigued. When she told him it was in support of Easter Seals, he says, “I then had this urge to participate.
“The greatest thing I have learned is that there are so many different types of disabilities, some more obvious than others,” he says. “On a level playing field, we were able to concentrate on discovering our abilities rather than focusing on our disabilities. Easter Seals created a positive environment where children are encouraged to discover their own place in society, acknowledge it and emerge the better for it.”
Despite his initial enthusiasm to rappel, Patrick, who has cerebral palsy, had some concerns. “I feared that my participation would be misconstrued as a publicity stunt; some disabled guy proves once again that ‘anything is possible,’” he says. “The reality is that anything is possible. I just wanted to do something that I have always wanted to do, but never had the time or opportunity. After all, how often is it legal for the ordinary person to rappel down the outside of a building?”
For John Tanner, who volunteers for Easter Seals Manitoba, the rappel was easy and fulfilled a dream. “It’s not scary at all for me. It’s just something I’ve always wanted to do,” he said to the Winnipeg Free Press, which featured his story on its front page!
The publicity around this event has been phenomenal. It’s a great way to celebrate our abilities and let the public know that people with disabilities can do just about anything they set their mind to.
Are you ready to move outside of your comfort zone?
Visit www.thedropzone.ca and find out how you can rappel down the side of a high-rise building in your city!