A Fairfax area grandfather will rappel 27 stories Sunday in Chicago to raise money for lung health.
“I’m looking forward to that first step off of the ledge,” said Tom Classick, 56. “I’m told when you take the first step back, that’s the 'do-or-die moment.' And then I’m just waiting to enjoy the view on the way down.”
Classick will participate in an event dubbed Skyline Plunge! Chicago, hosted by Respiratory Health Association of Metropolitan Chicago to raise funds and awareness for lung disease research and programs.
The event will take place Sunday from the 278-foot-tall theWit Hotel. Eighty participants in total are taking part.
Classick is no stranger to daredevil ventures. He has gone sky diving four times and last October, he went BASE jumping for the first time. BASE jumping is an activity where participants jump from fixed objects and use a parachute to break their fall. The fixed objects are: buildings, antennas, spans (bridges) and earth (cliffs).
“I did a tandem base jump of 876-feet high in New River,” Classick said. “It was absolutely gorgeous but terrifying. I like stuff like that. It gets the blood pumping.”
He first heard of the Chicago event through a college friend who wanted to raise money in memory of his mother who had passed away from lung cancer.
“He knows I like doing nutty things like that, so he invited a bunch of his old college buddies, and I was the one who took him up on it,” Classick said.
Classick also personally knew a friend who passed away from the disease in December 2011, Ben Fischer, who was a teammate on a baseball team.
Classick set a high fundraising goal: Five times the $1,000 minimum.
His wife, Sally, said that she has learned to adjust to her husband’s thrill-seeking nature.
“When he did his bridge jump last fall, he didn’t tell me about it until the night before, because I worry as a hobby,” Sally said, adding that this time around, her husband told her about the event a few months beforehand.
“First of all, I think it’s an incredible cause he’s doing this for,” Sally said. “I just have to get my head around the fact that he’s an adventurous person and he loves it.”
He has gotten mixed reactions from friends and family, some of whom think he’s crazy, others who think it’s great. He has two children, two stepchildren and one grandchild.
“My wife wanted to make sure that all my policy premiums were paid up and once she saw that, she supported me 100 percent,” Classick joked.
Classick will fly out to Chicago Saturday.
“It’s a great way to raise awareness for a good cause,” Classick said. “I assure people that it’s safe and that I’ll make it back to Fairfax Station in one piece.”
Classick has raised $1,750 for the event so far. To make a donation, visit his fundraising page.