CHARLOTTE – Michelle McConnell, an assistant exceptional children’s teacher at JV Washam Elementary School in Cornelius, rappelled down the side of the 23-story Fifth Third Center skyscraper Oct. 12.

After raising more than $1,000 for Special Olympics North Carolina, she was ready to partake in their daredevil feat called “Over the Edge.”

"I thought I was prepared to go Over the Edge, since I've done quite a bit of rock climbing and rappelling.  But none of that compared to riding the elevator up to the top floor of the Fifth Third Center and stepping out onto the roof,” McConnell said. “What a view of Charlotte!"  

The mission of the Special Olympics takes on a deep meaning for McConnell. Luke, her 14-year-old son, lives with high-functioning autism, while her 11-year-old adopted daughter, Mary, has cerebral palsy.  

“We were harnessed up, then trained in how to use the lowering device before being directed to the roof's edge,” she said. “That was the worst of it. Your heels literally on the edge of the wall, and they say, ‘Step off.’ Once that was behind me, it was a piece of cake. I'd do it again in a heartbeat.”