Individuals fastened their harnesses and descended down the side of a building in downtown Ardmore to raise funds for the University Center of Southern Oklahoma Saturday.
Those standing nearly 80 feet high at the top of the seven story First Bank & Trust building on Main St. spent almost two months preparing for this occasion, University Center of Southern Oklahoma president and CEO Peggy Maher said.
Each participant was required to raise at least $1,000 by May 8 as part of the fundraiser put on by UCSO in partnership with Over The Edge, a nonprofit that raises money by inviting people to rappel from great heights in support of various causes, Maher said.
“We needed some funds to do planning for expansion both of our building and of our programs,” Maher said. “We want to expand into some programs that will help a wider section of the community.”
Maher said she hopes to extend the University Center’s reach into high schools to help with career programs and to create adult literacy programs at the institution, among other things. And with the nearly $30,000 raised from Over The Edge, Maher said the University Center should be able to reach its goals.
“We’ve got to do some architectural planning and we’ve got to do some program planning. I think that this will cover all of it,” Maher said. “We’ll see, we’ll hope so— you always need more money than you think you do. But I think that we’ve raised enough to accomplish what we wanted to during the coming year.”
University Center administration should know what the next phase is and if the institution needs more money within six months, Maher said. But she is confident that UCSO will be able to start implementing its goals from the fundraising event by next year.
Amid her many responsibilities as president and CEO, Maher also decided to take the leap along with various members of the community, including individuals who were sponsored by local businesses, members of the Marshall County Sheriffs Department, and many others.
“I knew that I would have a lot of duties today, but I didn’t want to ask somebody to do something I wouldn’t do,” Maher said. “And I’m not really afraid of heights, it’s not a huge deal for me.”
Her involvement, as well as others from UCSO, led to more than just a financial profit, Maher said. In addition, she said the University Center was able to connect with the community that it strives to be a resource for. In fact, this year’s fundraiser was such a success that she said the University Center hopes to do it again next year.
“We’re very happy with our first year,” Maher said. “We’re hoping people get excited about it this year and they start a little earlier so they can take a little longer to raise money and we can get even more people.”