Denver, CO--Most people complain about being driven up a wall, but Michael Pollak, CEO of Hyde Park Jewelers, jumped off a wall—on his birthday, no less—to raise money for cancer research.
Pollak is very clear about how he wants to celebrate his birthday: He doesn’t want presents. He has all [the things] he needs. What he does want is to have a memorable experience and to help others.
Hyde Park Jewelers already is renowned for its philanthropic activities, but this year, Pollak literally went over the edge. Or, to be more precise, he rappelled off the top of a very tall building, as part of the Cancer League’s “Over the Edge” event. There, in exchange for raising at least $1,000, participants were given the opportunity to rappel down One Lincoln Park, a 32-story building in downtown Denver, where the three-store Hyde Park is based.
Pollak asked friends and family to mark the occasion of his birthday with a small (less than $100) donation to the Cancer League. He obviously has a lot of friends, because he raised $5,000. And, he says, monies donated to the Cancer League in Colorado are leveraged 20 to one for national [government] grants, so his $5,000 actually translates to $100,000 raised for cancer research.
Pollak made the jump in honor of Becky Busch, a Hyde Park employee who has been battling Stage 3 brain cancer. Busch’s tumor was originally thought to be inoperable, but after almost a year of chemotherapy and radiation treatment, it’s shrunk to a size that was deemed operable and she’s made remarkable progress. She’s under the care of the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, but was on hand to witness Pollak’s leap in her honor. It’s also possible that she’ll be back to work in the fourth quarter, says Pollak.
“It wasn’t the most intense birthday adventure I’ve had. That was jumping out of a hot air balloon with gourds tied to my feet. But this was a close runner-up.”
The adventure begins with the rappeller standing at the edge of the wall wearing a harness around back and butt. The rappeller then is instructed to lean backwards almost 90 degrees, perpendicular with the building.
“It’s like when someone stands behind you and says ‘trust me’ and you’re supposed to fall back and they catch you. Except then you only have about 18 inches to fall and here it’s 30 stories,” Pollak says. As the rappeller leans back, he releases the tension on the rope and begins the exhilarating ride down the wall.
Pollak says his ride down the wall was a lot of fun. And the money he raised was especially gratifying.
While Pollak figures out his next birthday adventure, learn more about the Cancer League here, make an after-the-fact donation here, and of course check out the video of Pollak’s ride over the edge here.