By Dixie Reid
Jody Nelsen, wife of Sacramento State President Robert S. Nelsen, nearly backed out of 2018's Over the Edge challenge. She wasn’t expecting to rappel from the roof of a 16-story Sacramento hotel.
“I thought it would be more like three stories,” Nelsen said. “I was really nervous, because I’m afraid of heights, but a commitment is a commitment, so over the edge I went."
And, yes, she is doing it again this year: "My strategy will be the same as last year: Don’t look down,” she said.
Nelsen, along with Sac State mascot Herky the Hornet, will lead the University’s team of 15 “Edgers” for the fourth annual Over the Edge challenge, Sept. 12-13, a fundraiser for the newly merged Stanford Youth Solutions + Sierra Forever Families (SYS + SFF).
The Sac State team will descend the Residence Inn by Marriott, 1121 15th St., starting at 8 a.m. Friday, Sept. 13.
Herky is slated to depart first.
“He’s excited to return this year,” said Adam Primas, the Sac State staffer who acts as the mascot's handler. “He trained at the Peak Adventures ropes course on campus last year to get ready.
“Herky laughs at ‘rope climbing,’ since he can fly.”
Sac State is lead sponsor of the event, a fundraiser for SYS + SFF programs that serve more than 4,500 at-risk and foster youth and families in Northern California.
“Over the Edge serves as a metaphor for the work we do,” said Laura Heintz, the organization’s CEO. “When we step on that ledge, it’s terrifying, like when a child is removed from their home.”
Heintz and Nelsen are scheduled to rappel side-by-side and follow Herky down.
Jody Nelsen, wife of Sac State President Robert S. Nelsen, shows her Hornet spirit in 2018 as she begins her trip down the side of a downtown hotel. (Sacramento State/Jessica Vernone)
“It speaks volumes that Jody Nelsen said ‘yes’ again,” said Jim Dragna, Sac State’s graduation “czar” and a SYS + SFF board member. “It’s her spirit that motivated us to participate again.”
This is Sacramento State’s second year as the fundraiser’s main sponsor. More than two dozen alumni work at SYS + SFF, providing services, support, and counseling.
The University’s 15-member team for Over the Edge includes campus administrators who serve on President Nelsen’s cabinet, along with student-government leaders Christian Miguel Landaverde and Jennifer Gross, representing Associated Students, Inc. (ASI).
In all, about 70 individuals have volunteered to rappel down the hotel’s exterior, raising money for a good cause: For every five participants, a youth is placed with his or her forever family, said Melissa Arnold, SYS + SFF’s community engagement director.
“This event truly has the ability to change the lives of those in our community,” she said.