Human Interest

Imagine looking over the edge of a 27-story building. Now imagine rappelling down the side of it.

For three Sedona professionals, this will soon be a reality and all for a good cause.

Sedona Fire District Chief Kris Kazian, Sedona-Oak Creek School District Superintendent David Lykins and Sedona police officer Jackie McQuaid will be taking part in Over the Edge, a fundraiser for Special Olympics. The three, who each raised more than $1,000, will rappel 415 feet down the CityScape building in downtown Phoenix on Saturday, Dec. 10. They decided to come together as Sedona Team because they knew they could raise more money together than they could alone.

“Everyone probably thinks this endeavor is a little on the crazy side, but I am dedicated to challenging myself just as athletes of Special Olympics do on a daily basis,” McQuaid said. “The fear that I will experience is only temporary while the positive impact on our community and this organization will last a lifetime.”

To mentally prepare, she said she researched the gear needed, the use of the equipment and safety techniques and watched several videos online to see what was required.  

“Physically I did several zipline adventures and started practicing on a rock climbing wall by climbing up and repelling down,” she added.

For Lykins, he said he was excited to have the opportunity to demonstrate his support for the Special Olympics. He said it’s also a way to strengthen relationships with the SFD and SPD.

“Multiple students from our school district have been Special Olympic athletes and have demonstrated courage and passion tackling their challenges in pursuit to be the best they can be in competition and in life,” he said. “They are to be commended for their efforts and talents.”

Like McQuaid, Lykins said he’s never done something like this. But, he said his normal conditioning and weight training regiment has prepared him physically for this challenge. And as to how he’s mentally preparing to do it, he said he’ll be thinking of those who struggle every day.

“I think of all of the students who have special needs and how they prepare to be their best,” he said. “Going over the edge of a 27-story building — one time on a Saturday in downtown Phoenix — will be easy knowing the obstacles many of our students and others have to overcome on a daily basis.”

Kazian said he was contacted by McQuaid to participate in this fundraising event. Having a personal connection to children with special needs, he said it was a simple decision.

“I know firsthand from athletes in the Special Olympics program that have gotten so much confidence by participating, I wanted to make sure I did my part to see that they have every chance to participate,” he said.

As a longtime firefighter, Kazian said he does have experience in rappelling but it’s been nearly 25 years since doing so. In that situation, he had to rappel down a 13-story building — half the height of the one he’ll be going down next week.

“That was also a long time ago so I would say I am a little rusty at this point,” he said.

When preparing mentally do accomplish this feat, like Lykins, Kazian said he’s using the Special Olympic athletes and those with disabilities as motivation.

“The fears and adversity I will have to overcome is nothing compared to what they go through on a daily basis to do things typically developing people take for granted,” he said. “If I can go out on the edge of a building 415 feet in the air and rappel down while raising money for Special Olympics it is pretty small stuff.”

Kazian went on to add, “To have been able to get over $1,000 in donations, the Lexi Kazian Foundation-Helping From Heaven, has made a $1,000 contribution as we have an interest in improving the comfort and quality of life for children with special needs. Special Olympics is a great way to improve the comfort and quality of life and I am proud and honored to be part of the event. I have had great sponsorship but there is still time to donate.”

For those wishing to donate to Team Sedona, visit


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