What does it mean to be “brave in the attempt?” There are many ways to show bravery; and for Special Olympics Massachusetts supporter Amanda Fowle, this means conquering her biggest fear every year in support of more than 14,000 athletes. Despite having an intense fear of heights, Fowle has participated in Over the Edge for more than a decade. Each year Fowle braves the more than 200 foot drop to show her support.
“I just think that if athletes can be brave in their everyday lives, I can do it once a year,” said Fowle.
Fowle first got involved with Over the Edge through Massachusetts State Police Major, Lenny Coppenrath, who had sent out an email explaining what Over the Edge is and asked people to join him and his team “Emily’s Edgers” in repelling down 22 flights in support of his daughter Emily, who is a Special Olympics MA athlete.
“Amanda and I worked together for a number of years out of the District Attorney’s Office in Plymouth County. We had Daniel Smith, who was an original member, and together we put the team together after Emily,” said Coppenrath. “As soon as Amanda heard about it, she said ‘I’m in.’ She jumped right in and joined the cause. She’s been on the team since then.”
After meeting Emily and participating in the fundraising event more than 10 years go, Fowle has returned every year since.
“Emily is just so fun and so amazing and she’s just a breath of fresh air and Lenny is so dedicated to her, and so dedicated to [Special Olympics MA]” she said. “If this is a way to support that, and support other people like her, then absolutely sign me up. I’ll do it 100 times if I have to.”
Emily attended the 2023 Over The Edge event to cheer on the Emily’s Edgers team, including Amanda. “I’ve known Amanda a long time. She is a great person and good friend,” said Emily. “I’m really proud of her. I tell her don’t be afraid or nervous and she will be fine.”
While one may think that by participating in this challenge year after year it might get easier, that’s not the case for Fowle, whose fear of heights extends far beyond repelling down the side of a building. She explained why the fear comes back instead of becoming easier with time.
“I always think I’m going to be the one that breaks the ropes. It doesn’t matter how many people have already gone, it’s just the thought that I’m going to plummet and not be able to stop myself,” she said. “Obviously, there are so many safety things in place that that would never be an issue, but it still petrifies me every year.”
Fowle is not the only one who returns year after year to brave the 200+ foot drop. The entire Emily’s Edgers crew comes back to repel off of the side of the Hyatt Regency in Boston in support of Special Olympics Massachusetts.
“People like Amanda overcome this fear every year because others do it on a daily basis,” said Coppenrath. “Someone knows a Special Olympian whether they know it or not…They are a source of energy, a source of inspiration, a source of happiness.”