Hamilton-area man to rappel down Toronto high rise in his wheelchair — and for the fourth time

Andrew Nielsen hooked into a harness was hoisted to the top of a 23-storey building in Toronto on Oct. 11, 2018. He was rappelled back down as part of Drop Zone Toronto, an Easter Seals fundraiser. @AndrewONielsen

A local man with cerebral palsy, who’s already rappelled down a high rise in a wheelchair three times in his life, is about to do it again on Saturday in Toronto.

Andrew Nielsen will go up 17 storeys and repel down the same distance from a Bloor Street building around 10 a.m. in the hopes of reaching a personal fundraising goal of $50,000 for the Easter Seals.

Longtime friend and camp counsellor Todd Stephens, who has known Nielsen for 34 years, says he’s not surprised that the non-verbal Nielson has taken on the challenge as many times as he has since he has always been an “adventurous guy.”

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He was trying to get me to do it with him, but, I’m scared to death of doing it,” Stephens said.

The affair is a part of the Easter Seals Drop Zone event in which a number of fundraisers will join Nielson and rappel down the side of Choice Properties REIT’s building at 175 Bloor St. E.

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Funds raised from Drop Zone support kids in Ontario with physical disabilities by paying for essential mobility and accessibility equipment, such as wheelchairs, walkers, stairlifts, bathing equipment and commodes — vital items that allow kids to live safely in their homes.

Click to play video: 'Fundraiser for Easter Seals BC/Yukon in Kelowna a success'
Fundraiser for Easter Seals BC/Yukon in Kelowna a success

Nielsen, 48, is expected to have a crazy day beginning at 5 a.m. with his trip to Toronto before returning to Hamilton in time for the Tiger-Cats game at 4 p.m.

“I know he’s going to fly his Tiger-Cats flag off of his wheelchair as he rappels down. He likes to get that in there while he’s in Toronto,” Stephens said.

Saturday will be the fourth time Nielsen will make the drop for Easter Seals, having made the first from the top of the same 23-storey building in 2017.

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Most participants will make the full drop from the top floor, however, with the elevator at the Bloor Street building only going to the 20th floor, Nielsen will be pulled up from the ground completing his venture by coming down.

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Stephens said there was a lot of trepidation the first time since the rappel team had to go over a six-foot barrier to actually get down from the roof.

“It was a pretty scary sight as he was sitting on top of that wall,” Stephens said.

“I was vomiting, really so nervous about it, but he was just calmly looking around taking in the sights.”

As of Friday morning, Nielsen’s campaign sits at just under $34,000. Donations can be made at his page on the Drop Zone site.

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