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Stamford Goes Over the Edge to Raise $100,000 for Special Olympics

An event was held Wednesday at the new Infinity building at Harbor Point where fundraisers were able to turn rappel down the face of the 22-story building.

On Wednesday, Special Olympics Connecticut showed up at the new Infinity building at Harbor Point so they could drop people off the top of it, 22-stories to the pavement below.

These people were connected to harnesses, of course. The event was Over the Edge, and those who worked up the nerve to rappel down the face of the building also donated at least $1,000 to the cause in order to do so.

With a goal of $50,000, the event would end up raising approximately $100,000 for the Special Olympics and an anti-bullying campaign.

The event was organized by Stamford School District's Facilities Manager Al Barbarotta, who's been involved with the Special Olympics for 25-years through the Walter Camp Football Program.

"Through that organization I met a special Olympian who's here today, David "Fletch" Dehnam," Barbarotta said. "Once you get a hug from Fletch, you're hooked. When Fletch goes to the national or the world games, I help raise money to send him there."

Fletch was beaming at the turnout to help support the cause and was satisfied to watch people take the plunge while he stood observing safely on the ground.

"I play Golf, I'm not going to go up there," he said. "I like all these people. This is good for the Special Olympics and I love the Special Olympics."

Stamford Superintendent Winnie Hamilton is a little scared of heights, she said, but she was going to let her fears stand in the way of raising money for a good cause.

"I don't like heights and I didn't like them any better up there," Hamilton said. "I think it's always good to face your fears, face a challenge. We face them everyday in life and once you overcome it, you can be happy it's over but I didn't quit and it makes you stronger for the next challenge."

Hamilton, who was a Special Olympics coach during her time at Westhill said those involved in the program received her utmost respect.

"Any fundraising event in which I can bring people together [for the Special Olympics,] I'm 120-percent in favor of," Hamilton said. "We talk about equity, about how all children should have the same opportunity to be challenged, physically or academically. To have the Olympics for some of our special needs children and help fund it is very important to giving those opportunities to all kids."

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy stopped by as well to show support for the fundraising events and special Olympians. He joked that because of the logistics for personnel that would have to be on the same rope he would need to take down, he could not participate in the rappel.

"My good friend Mr. Barbarotta called me and wanted me to join everybody scaling the building," Malloy said. "Then I explained I'd have to bring two troopers with me, so we couldn't do it."

Malloy said the success of the event shows the caliber of person in Stamford and the city's commitment to helping those who need it.

"Anyone who is committed to Special Olympics is themselves a special person," Malloy said. "Any time you can spend part of your day in Stamford is a good day and I'm particularly proud to be from Stamford today."

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