Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes seemingly will go to any length to bring awareness to a good cause.
Even when the length is more than 200 feet straight down.
Barnes recently partnered with OCSD’s Community Relations Manager, Gail Krause, to rappel side-by-side off the roof of the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Garden Grove from a height of 16 stories.
Barnes and Krause were among several law enforcement and community members who performed the feat on Aug. 9 and 10 to raise funds and awareness for Special Olympics Southern California, the signature charity supported by the OCSD.
“The concept is to get people excited about supporting our movement,” said Wayne Stickney, vice president of development for Special Olympics Southern California.
Barnes has ziplined and flown in hot air balloons, but abseiling down the side of a building was a first.
“I don’t like to step off perfectly healthy buildings,” Barnes joked before descending down the roof.
OCSD personnel watched Barnes and Krause rappel down the west side of the hotel.
After a safe landing, Barnes was ready to take an elevator back to the top of the hotel and try it again.
“It’s against every human instinct to fall off a building, but you literally just fall backwards and there is this moment of freedom,” Barnes said. “I’m in every year. That was totally cool.”
Krause volunteered to rappel down with the sheriff only an hour or so before heading up to the roof.
“I was scared at first, but it wasn’t actually that bad to step over the edge,” Krause said. “It was empowering.”
OCSD is among several law enforcement agencies participating in other events throughout the year to support the Special Olympics.
As “guardians of the flame,” OCSD personnel join other agencies in the annual Law Enforcement Torch Run, carrying the Olympic flame through Orange County cities as it makes its way to the Summer Games.
For Tip-A-Cop fundraisers, OCSD deputies serve as waiters in restaurants and donate their tips to the Special Olympics.
Barnes said dozens of OCSD deputies attend Special Olympic events in uniform to cheer on athletes.
“It’s phenomenal what law enforcement does for us worldwide,” Stickney said. “As a whole, they are in 174 countries and in 2017 they raised over $57 million for the Special Olympics.”