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Brave souls rappel down 8-story Fargo building to kick off fundraiser

Jordan Schroeer, morning news anchor at WDAY/WDAZ-TV, looks down toward the street 110 feet below him as he leans back to rappel the side of the Black Building Thursday, Aug. 10, 2017, in downtown Fargo. More rappelling will take place Friday starting at 9 a.m. as a fundraiser for local nonprofit CHARISM. Participants pledge to raise a minimum of $1,000 in exchange for the experience. Dave Wallis / The Forum1 / 2
A spectator takes pictures and video as two people rappel 110 feet down the side of the Black Building Thursday, Aug. 10, 2017, in downtown Fargo. More rappelling will take place Friday starting at 9 a.m. as a fundraiser for local nonprofit CHARISM. Participants pledge to raise a minimum of $1,000 in exchange for the experience. Dave Wallis / The Forum2 / 2

FARGO — About 40 people gathered near the Black Building on Thursday afternoon, Aug. 10, curious about the man strapped into a harness on top of the 110-foot structure.

John Fisher, executive director of the local nonprofit group, CHARISM, slowly inched his way down the eight-story building with his wife and three children cheering from below. His oldest daughter was waving a sign that read, "Go Daddy go!"

"He is scared out of his mind," said his wife, Abby. "But he challenged all these people to conquer their fears, so he thinks he needs to do the same."

Fisher was the first of over 70 volunteers who will rappel down the Black Building on Thursday and Friday, Aug 10 and 11, to raise money for CHARISM's educational programs for at-risk kids.

Brittany LaForte, CHARISM's operations director, said each rappeler pledged to raise $1,000. The group has already met its goal of raising $30,000, and expects to receive more donations on Friday, LaForte said.

Outside of the building at 118 Broadway, crowds gathered from 1 to 4 p.m. Thursday in hopes of catching a glimpse of the seven rappellers kicking off the fundraiser. A lemonade stand was available for onlookers, and a Y94 FM radio truck blasted music.

Josh Cortez stood near the lemonade stand, looking up at the roof. The 25-year-old drove from Minneapolis to be one of the first rappellers.

"I've done some rappelling in the Marines, so I figured why not?" Cortez said. "I'm scared of heights, but I still gotta challenge myself, you know?"

Cortez will stick around to volunteer at the event on Friday, where LaForte said there will be more attractions for people who come to watch, including food stands, yard games and music. Broadway will be closed to traffic between First Avenue North and Second Avenue North from 5 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday. Starting at 9 a.m., someone will be rappelling from the Black Building every 15 to 20 minutes.

Fargo Mayor Tim Mahoney, RedHawks baseball mascot Hawkeye, Concordia College mascot Kernel Cobb and Fargo Fire Chief Steve Dirksen will be among those rappelling. LaForte said other participants are getting creative with costumes, and bystanders can be on the lookout for Thor, Superman and Wonder Woman.

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