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TO GREAT HEIGHTS: Rappel the 120-foot Blockade Runner and make a child’s DREAMS come true

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Going over the edge for DREAMS of Wilmington.

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OK, imagine overlooking the great blue Atlantic, a sun peaking over its horizon, and waves splashing below, as loads of fans cheer as one foot goes over the side of the 120-foot, 8-story Blockade Runner. And just like that, suddenly, Spider Man has appeared, rappelling the side of the building.

EDGY FUNDRAISER: DREAMS Center for Arts Education staff and students gather on the roof of the Blockade Runner to make a promotion for their daring Over the Edge campaign. Photo by Bess Butterworth

EDGY FUNDRAISER: DREAMS Center for Arts Education staff and students gather on the roof of the Blockade Runner to make a promotion for their daring Over the Edge campaign. Photo by Bess Butterworth

Come November 19, there will be a ton of Spideys showcasing their mad skills as Over the Edge comes to the Blockade Runner by way of DREAMS Presents. DREAMS Presents is the annual fundraiser for DREAMS Center for Arts Education, which introduces arts of all mediums back into the lives of at-risk youth with after-school and summer-camp programming. Each fall the nonprofit has hosted a black-tie dinner, wherein students perform and showcase talents they’ve been honing at DREAMS. For 2016 executive director Matt Carvin—who is rounding out year two leading the organization—wanted to push the boundaries and go over the edge with a concept that would propel more community involvement.

“We’re always looking for innovative ways to tell the DREAMS story,” Carvin says. “Canadian-based Over the Edge is a company that works exclusively with nonprofits to provide a safe and controlled opportunity for organizations like ours to connect with the community and provide the opportunity of a lifetime: rappelling a building. It’s one event that participants will never forget, all for an amazing cause!”

Carvin and founding executive director Tracy Wilkes are going head-to-head in an Over the Edge challenge. The one who raises the most money will have to gear up and take on the side of Wrightsville Beach’s resort hotel.

“Tracy’s really scared of heights,” Carvin says, who is leading the way by $300. “I have a feeling the pressure is going to keep increasing as time runs out, and Tracy will wind up sending a lot of new kids to DREAMS!”

The DREAMS organization currently has 16 folks and two teams signed up to participate in Over the Edge. They’re also encouraging challenges between friends and businesses to ramp up excitement.

“You can get really creative and think outside the box,” says Bess Butterworth, DREAMS director of marketing and community engagement. “Your office can raise $1,000 to ‘Toss the Boss!’ You can form teams and compete with other groups.”

Registration is $100; then folks have to raise $900 to secure their spot to rappel. Each rappeller has a page at “You get your own personalized fundraising page to edit, upload photos to, and share on social media,” Butterworth continues. “It’s a lot easier to raise money for a good cause than most people think, especially when it’s something fun like this. Just share your link on Facebook, and instead of people ‘liking’ your post, ask for $25 or $50 dollars.”

TeamEncore will be sponsoring advertising executives Tiffany Wagner and Rose Thompson. Yet, we welcome more rappellers to join our team and help us raise money for DREAMS. Risk takers who feel more safe grounded than hanging from a rope can simply donate to TeamEncore. Everyone who donates will be entered into a drawing for a chance to win an exclusive “Locals Love Arts” package. It will include two tickets to “Elf the Musical” at the Wilson Center in December, two tickets to a concert (TBA), two tickets to the UNCW dance performance of “Bollywood: Taj Express” in February, and a gift certificate to a local restaurant. The winner will be announced on Rappel Day at the Blockade Runner, November 19.

All rappellers who reach their goal ($1,000 minimum to secure a rappel spot) will show up an hour before their time slot. “The rappel itself only takes about 15 minutes,” Butterworth explains, “but there’s training and all sorts of important safety and equipment checks with your gear fist. Over the Edge has done over 100 of these events a year with nonprofits for almost 10 years. It’s nothing new, just new to Wilmington!”

Also, on November 19 the Blockade Runner will host the party, with Bigg B from Coastal 97.3 deejaying from the event all day. He’ll be spinning tunes and taking requests from participants who get to choose the songs they rappel to. Rappellers are encouraged to wear their most creative costumes, too, for the costume contest. Plus, there will be live music, food and libations, games, an art sale, and more. The public is welcome to spectate and celebrate.

“The day before, Friday, November 18, is ‘VIP/Media Day,” Butterworth explains. “We’ll have local celebrities, newscasters, CEOs and city leaders going over the edge for DREAMS. (Mayor Saffo, we’re looking at you!) There are only 10 spots available on VIP/Media Day, but you can expect to see 10 local superhero rock stars all over television and radio!”

Opportunities are still available for businesses who wish to sponsor DREAMS Presents Over the Edge. Packages range from $1,500 to $15,000, with plenty of incentives to get involved. All money raised benefit the students at DREAMS, 99 percent of whom go on to graduate from high school and college.

To learn more, head to the Garage at DREAMS this Friday for DREAMS Presents “Reaching New Heights,” a showcase of visual and performing arts. From 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. there will be live entertainment, drinks and food, all for only $20. DREAMS staff will have information about their youth arts program and about their Over the Edge fundraiser.

We at encore are challenging other local media to get involved in the cause! StarNews, Greater Wilmington Business Journal, WILMA, Focus on the Coast, Port City Daily, Wrightsville Beach Magazine, Wilmington Magazine, Livin’ Out Loud, and Lumina News: Go ahead … take it over the edge!

Over the Edge
Rappel the Blockade Runner for
DREAMS of Wilmington, November 19
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Encore Magazine regularly covers topics pertaining to news, arts, entertainment, food, and city life in Wilmington. It also maintains schedules and listings of local events like concerts, festivals, live performance art and think-tank events. Encore Magazine is an entity of H&P Media, which also powers Wilmington’s local ticketing platform, Print and online editions are updated every Wednesday.

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