KU basketball staff members to join Bill Self in charity rappelling adventure

Kansas head coach Bill Self directs his team during the semifinals of the Final Four NCAA college basketball tournament against Villanova in San Antonio on March 31, 2018. | David J. Phillip | AP file photo

By Gary Bedore gbedore@kcstar.com

Update (2:25 p.m. Friday, Aug. 24): Bill Self will not rappel down the building as scheduled:

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-partner="tweetdeck"><p lang="en" dir="ltr"><a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/KUbball?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#KUbball</a> head coach Bill Self released a statement Friday afternoon about his participation in the Over The Edge for the Boys &amp; Girls Club tomorrow at 888 Lofts. <a href="https://t.co/pzkYrzIS3b">pic.twitter.com/pzkYrzIS3b</a></p>&mdash; Kansas Basketball (@KUHoops) <a href="https://twitter.com/KUHoops/status/1033070851233656832?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">August 24, 2018</a></blockquote> <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

Original story:

Kansas basketball video coordinator/former Jayhawk guard Jeremy Case checked out the 888 Lofts Building in downtown Lawrence earlier this week after getting recruited by KU coach Bill Self to rappel down the luxury apartment complex at 11 a.m. Saturday.

“It’s actually kind of high. It’s pretty high. It’s about eight stories, man,” Case said with a laugh on Wednesday afternoon.

Case and KU assistant coach Kurtis Townsend on Tuesday agreed to descend the seven-story structure as part of Saturday’s Boys and Girls Club fundraiser with their fearless leader — Self — who had accepted the challenge back in mid-May.

Each participant — including former KU hoops guard Jeff Hawkins, who was the latest to sign up on Wednesday — is in charge of raising $1,000 from friends asked to support their rappelling efforts.

Self elected to raise $10,000 and is involved in a good-natured competition with Anna Stubblefield, the Lawrence school district’s deputy superintendent, who is well on her way to raising her goal of $10,001.

“I got talked into it. Coach Self thought there should be a couple more of us doing it,” Case said of his involvement. “I volunteered and said I would.”

Case said that as Saturday draws near, “the mood at the office is nervous and worried we don’t look bad, but also don’t get hurt. Nah … I’m not scared. I think it’ll be exciting,” he added quickly. “I hope the people (in charge) know what they are doing, though. I don’t want to get any faulty rope.”

Actually, the “Over the Edge” company in charge of monitoring the rappelling — workers will train the KU contingent at 10 a.m. Saturday with their first steps off the top of 888 Lofts set for 11 a.m. — is all about safety, as explained on the company website.

“Over the Edge” reports a 13-year safety track record with 754 successful events and more than 52,000 successful customers, referred to as “edgers.” Close to $80 million has been raised overall for charity at these rappelling events.

As far as 16th-year KU coach Self’s involvement … he has been a longtime supporter of the Boys and Girls Club of Lawrence.

“I’ve never scaled a building or bungee jumped or done anything that is remotely comparable to what we’ll be doing on this day,” Self said recently. “But I’m excited and it’s for a good cause. Hopefully it will generate a lot of interest from a lot of people.

“I participated actively in the Boys and Girls Club in Oklahoma City when I was young,” Self added. “With coaching, I’ve seen so many players, especially from the inner cities that were involved — and in many cases saved — by the efforts of Boys and Girls Club. It’s something that is very near and dear to us.”

Alissa Bauer, director of marketing and communications of the Boys and Girls Club of Lawrence, said Self’s participation has definitely sparked interest in Saturday’s event. Bauer, who formerly worked in media relations at KU, also will scale down the building, as will Boys and Girls Club executive director Colby Wilson, Myrone Grady of the police department and others. Two can rappel at a time.

“It’s so cool for Coach Self to be a part of this. He gets asked to be at so many things,” Bauer said. “He’s a huge supporter of the Boys and Girls Club. This is a unique one (fundraiser), and I think it’s a way for him to do something different. I know a lot of his guys (players) will come watch, too. It sets a great example for the players, too: ‘If I can go find a way to support our community, then our guys can find time to do it, too.’’’

Bauer said the event, which is sponsored by former KU player Chris Piper’s “Grandstand Glasswear and Apparel” with use of the building provided by First Management Inc., is open to the public free of charge. The rappelling will start with Wilson’s attempt at 9 a.m. Saturday.

“They do an hour of training so they (participants) know what it’ll feel like being in a harness with no ground underneath them,” Bauer said. “The hardest part … from what I’ve been told by the ‘Over the Edge’ technicians is you have to lay completely flat as you go over the edge of the building. You get your feet underneath you, then you are lowering yourself down on a rope. It looks a lot scarier than it is. It’s extremely safe. We’ll have people help with the ropes. That’s going to be the Lawrence police and fire department with ‘Over the Edge’ staff safety technicians. There’s whole community involvement.”

There’s definitely KU basketball involvement. And who knows, by Saturday, additional rappellers might join in the fun.

“It’s very funny how coach throws me in there and lets me be part of things like this. I’m going to try to talk Brennan (Bechard, KU director of basketball operations) into doing it, too,” Case said, laughing.


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