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Law enforcers, Big Kenny go over the edge of the Grand America for charity

Published: Thursday, Aug. 5 2010 11:32 a.m. MDT

Big Kenny of the country music duo Big & Rich descends the Grand America Hotel on August 5, 2010.

Laura Seitz, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — Law enforcers and news reporters were thrown off the roof of the Grand America Hotel on Thursday, all in the name of charity.

Special Olympics Utah hosted its second annual Over the Edge at The Grand America event. Participants donated money for the chance to rappel 24 stories from the roof of the hotel on 555 S. Main.

Among those who dared to put on a harness and step off the top of the hotel were Salt Lake Police Chief Chris Burbank, Salt Lake County Sheriff Jim Winder and Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff. Also participating was Big Kenny of the country music duo Big and Rich.

"Anyone who wants to let me jump off their building, I'm there," said a smiling Burbank. "It's great fun."

Each participant committed to raising a minimum of $1,000 for the chance to go over the edge. Businesses that pledged at least $2,500 had the opportunity to "toss your boss" off the hotel roof.

All proceeds go to Special Olympics Utah. Thursday's event was also in conjunction with the group's Law Enforcement Torch Run.

Last year, more than 70 people went off the roof of the hotel, raising more than $35,000.

"Most people who sign up are looking for something a little out of the ordinary," said Law Enforcement Torch Run liaison Lyn Rees. "They want something a little extreme."

Rees said the idea of raising money by rappelling off the hotel came from one of the Special Olympics national conferences. Today, more than 40 states use the event as a fundraiser for the Special Olympics, Rees said.

"That is a cause that for law enforcement, it really is kind of a special thing for us," he said. "This is not something that the chief mandates. The cops go out and do it themselves. The officers really care and want to participate."

Members of the Salt Lake City Police Department's SWAT team volunteered their time to be belayers for the event. Burbank, who learned to rappel when he was with the SWAT team, went faster than the safety equipment allowed and was forced to stop several times to unlock the safety catch device.

"My guys were belaying. I knew they'd catch me if I got going too fast," Burbank said.

e-mail: preavy@desnews.com

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