She refused to admit apprehension. But when 14-year-old Sarah Manor approached the edge of the Ambassador Hotel’s roof Saturday afternoon, she looked a little uneasy.
She was 14 stories up. The ground was 172 feet down. She was next to go over and rappel down the side of the building.
“Are you nervous?” Boy Scout troop leader Ken Sauer asked. He glanced over her gear quickly. The girl had just completed brief training on how to start and stop her descent. Her helmet and harness were tight.
“I don’t know,” Sarah said with a shrug. Her voice was small.
“If you get a little nervous, stop and take a deep breath through your nose,” Sauer, 62, advised.
“I’ve rappelled four times,” he said with a smile. “The height always terrifies me.”
Saturday afternoon, more than 50 people slid down the exterior of the hotel, 104 S. Broadway, on a pair of cables to raise money to support programs run by the Boy Scouts of America Quivira Council.
The rappelling event, called “Over the Edge,” was held in partnership with Over the Edge USA, a special-events company that helps raise money for nonprofits.
Saturday’s was the first fundraiser of its kind for the Quivira Council, Scout executive Mike Johnson said. The organization serves more than 11,000 Scouts across a 30-county area in south and southeast Kansas.
“We wanted to find something new and unique that also highlights the adventure component of Scouting” and helps bring awareness and funds to the Quivira Council, he said.
The event “really crosses all ages and genders,” Johnson said. “Some are experienced at rappelling. Some have no experience at all.”
Non-Scouting participants were asked to raise $750 to rappel; members of Scouting programs and active-duty military personnel raised $500 each.
By Saturday afternoon, more than $50,000 had come in, Johnson said. Among other ventures, funds will go to support the Quivira Council’s Campership program, which helps families with financial challenges send their children to camp, and Scoutreach, which serves at-risk youths in urban areas.
Rappelling instills character in Scouts, said Sauer, leader of Derby’s Boy Scout Troop 692. “It’s a big confidence builder.”
Sarah, an Andover Central Middle School student, was the youngest of those rappelling on Saturday. A few weeks ago, she joined Quivira Council’s Venturing crew, a youth development program for boys and girls ages 14 to 21.
Before her jump, she admitted to hating heights.
“It’s not my favorite thing,” she said. She added that she was “kind of” scared.
“I just expect it to be like hanging there.”
Despite the worry, Sarah eased over the concrete ledge of the Ambassador’s roof around 1:30 p.m. She nodded and breathed deep before giving slow slack to the rope on her first leg down.
After dropping a few stories, she turned and waved to the crowd below.
Applause greeted her when her feet touched the ground.
Kim Manor called her daughter “the brave one in the family.” She draped her arm around Sarah’s shoulder and squeezed after her daring descent.
How was the jump?
“It was good,” Sarah said with a wide grin.
“I am thrilled. I am just shocked” that she did it, Kim Manor said.
“Now she can check that off her bucket list.”