How to Go Over The Edge in Three Steps

Over The Edge (OTE) takes you to great heights for a great cause. On Saturday, October 18, 2015, the height was 365ft and the cause was brain cancer research.

Brain cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths among children and young adults. More than 600,000 people in the US are living with a brain tumor diagnosis and another 66,000 new diagnosis are expected this year. Meanwhile, there are only four brain tumor treatments approved by the FDA. [See Accelerate Brain Cancer Cure (ABC2)’s new website for more information.]

The common goal of finding a cure for brain cancer motivated 80 plus participants to rappel off the top of San Diego’s Grand Hyatt. My sister and I were just two of the many “edgers” who went over in memory of a loved one that we lost to the disease. We went over for our grandmother, Elisabeth Clark, and for all of those who are fearlessly fighting the disease today.

Here’s how we got the courage to take that first step over the railing and go over the edge:

    1. Do it for an Organization Worth Going Over the Edge for

ABC2 teamed up with OTE for the third year in a row to raise money for brain cancer research and awareness. ABC2 is a grantee of the Case Foundation and a nonprofit organization that drives cutting-edge research and treatments for brain tumors.

In 2014, OTE for Brain Cancer raised over $215,000 to support San Diego-based brain cancer research. The total for 2015 is still growing, and you can keep up with this year’s fundraising progress here!

ABC2’s mission is to invest in research aimed at finding the fastest possible route to a cure. They let urgency conquer fear by taking bold strides in brain cancer research. They aren’t afraid to be unconventional in their tactics to raise awareness about brain cancer—including rappelling off the side of a building!

    1. Rappel Down a Building with a View

If you’re going to go over the edge, why not enjoy the view while you’re up there? For the third year, OTE for brain cancer rappelled 365ft from the 33rd floor of the beautiful Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego, the tallest building on the San Diego waterfront.

When standing on the edge, don’t look down, but be sure to take in the view! From the top, edgers get a breathtaking view of the Pacific Ocean and downtown San Diego. You’ll be back on the ground before you know it, so take advantage of the once in a lifetime opportunity and take your time. It’s not everyday that you’re higher than the seagulls flying over the San Diego marina!

    1. Be Fearless.

You’d be surprised to discover what you’re capable of when you reach beyond your bubble and be fearless.

Walking backwards off the edge of a 365ft building is no easy task. However, the strength and inspiration necessary to make the descent can be found in the survivors’ courageous battles against the disease. If they can fight against brain cancer, you can go over the edge!

Love conquered fear as the cheers from the crowd below gave strength to the edgers above. Some superhero edgers were brain cancer survivors themselves, and many others were being fearless in honor or in loving memory of friends and family. Together as one, it was a day bursting with love, support and hope for a cure.

Want to see what going over the edge is like? Check out photos from OTE2014 or watch the video below of my OTE experience this year:


Are You a Member of Team BT?

There are certain people in life that we are lucky enough to meet and who make an impact on our lives. For me, common among all of those people who have made an indelible mark on my life is a courageousness and spirit that is truly infectious. They make us wonder why we are not out doing more and they inspire us to look inward and challenge ourselves to face the world with fewer limitations—to be more fearless.

BethAnn Telford of Team BT is one of these unique individuals who I will never forget. She has been surviving with a brain tumor for nearly 10 years. During that time she has pushed herself well beyond limits that would hold most of us back. In October of 2012, she completed the IRONMAN World Championship triathlon in Kona, HI. She earned her coveted spot through the Kona Inspired program, which selects only seven deserving athletes each year.

Our staff is truly inspired by her story and her dedication to the children who are living with brain cancer, with whom she makes a point to befriend and engage continuously. I saw her for the first time a year ago at the 2013 Washington, DC, Race for Hope — the annual run/walk hosted in the spring by Accelerate Brain Cancer Cure and the National Brian Tumor Society to raise money for brain cancer research. She addressed the crowd at the starting line and did a wonderful job of energizing the crowd and reminding everyone why we were there on that chilly morning.

More recently, I met her in person and listened first hand to her tell her amazing story of triumph over her diagnosis. I had the opportunity to get her insight into what being fearless means and how she incorporates fearlessness into her role as a leader and advocate.

Case Foundation: What do you think it means to Be Fearless?

BethAnn Telford: To me, being fearless means challenging yourself to push your boundaries, regardless of your circumstances, and not setting limitations on what you believe you can accomplish.

CF: What role can people play in highlighting and championing fearless approaches in their community and own personal life?

BT: I think people can draw strength and inspiration from others in their community and work hard to be role models and to inspire others in everything they do. Part of that is supporting all of the amazing people who do good in the world, beginning with those in your local community and trying not to only focus attention on the current fad or celebrity.

CF: What can other leaders in the community, like you, incorporate in their thinking to travel on a fearless path? What is your piece of advice to leaders and/or others who have been affected by brain cancer?

BT: Continue to fight as hard as you can to find a cure and never give up! Science and medicine have made tremendous strides over the last decade or two and we can help accelerate that progress. Hopefully, we will look back at this time and know that we did all we could to find a cure for all of those suffering with this disease.

CF: Can you describe a recent challenge or struggle you encountered and how you approached it?

BT: Recently, a bunch of my friends introduced me to Cross Fit. Because of my brain cancer, my coordination is not quite what it once was in my youth, and I struggle sometimes to properly perform the movements and techniques required. Luckily I am stubborn and refuse to give up, so even though it is difficult for me, I stick with it, and know that I will improve with focus and practice.

CF: Can you give me a specific moment in history or a person who was fearless and truly inspired you

BT: There are a lot of people that have inspired me through the years, one of whom is my father. He has never had an easy life with raising our family, but he has never complained and has continued to work hard to provide for us all of his life. His determination and perseverance have always been a source of strength that I have depended on. I consider him to be my hero.

CF: Who or what inspires you each day to be a fearless champion for other survivors?

BT: Since my diagnoses with brain cancer, I have met so many amazing and strong people who are also battling this disease, many of them children. When I meet these children and see how courageous and cheerful they can be, I am truly inspired to never give up and to continue my own battle.

CF: What drew you to running originally and what pushes you to complete more and bigger physical feats? How many marathons and triathlons have you completed in your life? Why did you want to run at Kona in particular?

BT: I have always enjoyed being an athlete and challenging myself physically, from competing in soccer and field hockey in school to eventually running marathons and triathlons. I have completed more than 40 marathons and triathlons; I haven’t kept an accurate count over the years, though I typically run between two and five marathons each year. I am motivated in part by a desire to not let my brain cancer limit what I can do and to continue to push my boundaries. Triathlons, in particular, the Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii, are a natural extension of that philosophy. Completing the IRONMAN triathlon at Kona was one of the most challenging things I could possibly do, and because it is on the world stage it was my chance to bring greater awareness to all of those struggling with brain cancer and to help find a cure.

CF: Did completing the IRONMAN triathlon at Kona change your perspective on being Fearless, and if so in what ways? And how do you hope this accomplishment will influence others?

BT: There was a point, a few days before the event, while swimming in the Pacific Ocean, when I doubted and questioned my abilities and myself. A dear friend, who accompanied me to Kona, was with me and because of her encouragement I recovered and found my strength. Another friend supported me during the marathon portion of the event. Competing in Kona increased my awareness of how much I depend on others for their strength as much as others depend on me. I hope people can take my accomplishment and inspire themselves or a loved one to reach for their dreams and to not let their circumstances limit them.

CF: What do you hope to accomplish next?

BT: I’ll continue to do marathons and triathlons, but I’m still working on what’s next. I met a wonderful person, Maria Parker, earlier this year that has raced across America on her bicycle to raise awareness for brain cancer. We are thinking of doing something spectacular together, but are stilling working on the details.

CF: How important is your support in helping you to approach your brain tumor and your advocacy for other survivors in a fearless way?

BT: My support from family, friends, my doctors, and the community means so much! Without their support and encouragement I would not be able to accomplish what I have been able to so far. It is through them that I find my strength and I know that when I am weakest or need help, they are always there to lift me back up and keep me going.

CF: Is there anything else you would like to share?

BT: I want to inspire people. I want someone to look at me, or remember me when I am gone, and say, “Because of BethAnn Telford, I didn’t give up!”

Fearless Focus: Max Wallace

In our journey to Be Fearless and champion a fearless approach to tackling social challenges, the Case Foundation team will spotlight leading changemakers across sectors that have embraced fearlessness. Our spotlights will provide personal accounts of why these changemakers adopted a fearless approach, how they overcame hurdles, and how taking risks, being bold, and failing forward led to quicker results and deeper impact. We spoke with Max Wallace, CEO of Accelerate Brain Cancer Cure (ABC2), a nonprofit organization that uses entrepreneurial approaches to bring innovative new treatments to brain cancer patients. ABC2 was created in 2001, shortly after co-founder and Chairman of the Board Steve Case’s brother Dan Case was diagnosed with brain cancer. Dan, his wife Stacey, and Steve and Jean Case established ABC2’s singular focus to find a cure for brain cancer. ABC2 supports translational research in targeted therapies, drug delivery, cancer stem cells and using biomarkers for early detection and prognosis. The organization operates in honor of and in celebration of Dan, who passed in 2002. Max says “ABC2 is, in essence, a special operations team in the war against brain cancer.” Previous to joining ABC2, Max was an entrepreneur building research-driven biopharmaceutical companies.

You can watch Max’s answers to our questions in the video above, or share each segment individually:

What do you think it means to Be Fearless in approaching social challenges?
Of course I’d like to think we are fearless in our fight against brain cancer. Every day we fight an implacable, complex, dangerous disease for people whose lives are at stake. If fear is “a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil or pain,” it is a daily part of our world. John Wayne described it:  “Courage is being scared to death … and saddling up anyway.” We saddle up every day and take as big and audacious a swing at brain cancer as we can. It may not be truly fearless – but it’s pretty darn close.

Tell us about a time when you and your organization were Fearless.
We worked witih Genentech to tackle risks and, in an unprecedented step, ABC2 provided funding for Genentech to do the required brain cancer studies. The result: in May 2009 the FDA granted accelerated approval for Avastin to be used to treat brain cancer – the first new brain cancer drug approved in over a decade. This pioneering project has set the tone for all that ABC2 has done since.

What did you learn & what advice would you give other organizations facing a similar decision point?
Steve Jobs said that he was trying to “make a dent in the universe” and we agree with that approach. Trying to dent the universe is risky business and we often operate in unmapped territory (in fact, our job is to send back maps). We know there will be failures, but that is not a reason to hold back. And, if we do fail we want our failure to be both fast and forward.

What inspired your organization to Be Fearless?
In 2001, Dan Case was 43 and on top of the world. Then Dan was diagnosed with brain cancer. Counseled by many to focus just on his own life, Dan chose to take a different path and ABC2 was born. While Dan did not survive his cancer, every day we work to be as caring and courageous as he was.

Learn more about Max Wallace here. Read more about Be Fearless campaign. Know someone that we should spotlight for Fearless Focus? Let us know here in the comments or tell us on twitter @casefoundation using #befearless.