TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — More than 50 people rappelled 17 stories down the side of the Hilton Downtown Tampa Saturday in support of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Tampa Bay.

The “Over The Edge” fundraiser featured 55 “Edgers,” including Tampa’s Mayor Jane Castor and Police Chief Brian Dugan.

Each Edger had to raise a minimum of $1,500, which is the cost of supporting one match between an adult volunteer and a child facing adversity for a year in the Big Brothers Big Sister mentoring program.

Last year, the Over The Edge event raised $100,000 for the organization, and the goal this year is to match that amount.

Last year, more than 2,000 young people were paired with an adult volunteer and more than 70% of the youth in the organization served were African-American, Hispanic, or multi-racial.

CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Tampa Bay Stephen Koch says the pandemic has had a huge impact on these young people, so having a big is extremely important for them.

“A lot of our kids need that special adult in their life,” Koch said. “When our kids have been matched for a year with our volunteer, we see their confidence level soaring, their grades improve.”

Police Chief Dugan says his department is a big supporter of the organization. 

“It’s so important we get on the front end of our youth as law enforcement, instead of the back end when they end up in jail, so it’s important for us to build relationships,” Dugan said.

Mayor Castor has been involved with the program for years, and at one point, had a little herself. So she knows the importance of the program.

“My little sister and I were matched when she was in the third grade and she’s 27 now, so it’s been an incredible experience,” Castor said.

There are currently more than 650 children on the agency’s waiting list, hoping to be matched with a volunteer mentor. You can find details about attending a virtual orientation on the organization’s website.

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