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Who knew? Rusty Wallace and rappelling are a perfect fit

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - "Over The Edge at ONE DAYTONA" got a little edgier than planned on Friday, only adding to the adventure for that ol’ thrill seeker Rusty Wallace. Winds in the 20-mph range made rappelling down the side of the eight-story, 102-foot International Motorsports Center a bit more interesting.

Wallace wasn’t fazed, which should surprise no one. His inherent nerve notwithstanding, the former Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series NASCAR champion was participating in his third "OTE" to raise money for charity. He rappelled last year here, then provided an encore at a recent OTE event in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Guess you could say he’s leading the points.

Wallace was the big name in town for a big day, the second annual Over the Edge at ONE DAYTONA that benefited The NASCAR Foundation and Easterseals Northeast Central Florida, toward providing health care services in the Daytona Beach area for children in need. Funds are raised by rappellers (approximately $125,000 this week), who find sponsors to support their bravery. Wallace, a longtime foundation board member, was in his element.

"When Betty Jane France (the late founder of The NASCAR Foundation) invited me to be on the foundation’s board back in 2006, I jumped on it,’ Wallace said. "I’ve just had a great time with the foundation. We’ve raised a lot of money for kids. We’re raised more than $500,000 thus far rappelling. The foundation has always been something that’s close to my heart. I think we’re doing a lot of great things for children.

"And I hope we keep doing Over the Edge. This is one of the coolest fundraisers we’ve done. We do a lot of great fundraisers for The NASCAR Foundation but this is one of them that’s at the top of the heap."

Wallace, a NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee who also was named one of NASCAR 50 Greatest Drivers in 1998, was joined by fellow high-profile rappellers like Bev Johnson, president and CEO of Easterseals Northeast Central Florida; Sheryl Cook of Ormond Beach, who led all fundraising at last year’s Over the Edge at ONE DAYTONA, with $12,000 in donations; Daytona Beach Police Chief Craig Capri and Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood; and 14-year-old Daniel Dye of Deland, an aspiring race car driver who recently got his first victory in a full-size stock car at New Smyrna Speedway.

"We get such great support from the community which has really embraced The NASCAR Foundation and Easterseals of Northeast Central Florida," said The NASCAR Foundation Executive Director Nichole Krieger.

"We have community leaders here, we have sponsors, we have fans … and we have what you can call ‘everyday heroes’ who are going over the edge to support kids. And we are so lucky to have Rusty Wallace on our board. He is a real champion of children, always ready to help us out. So when we call him and ask him if he’ll go off the top of a tall building, he just says, ‘Sure, why not? It’s for the kids. I’m happy to help.’"

While Friday spotlighted recognizable rappellers like Wallace and various community leaders, Over the Edge at ONE DAYTONA continues on Saturday, with the general public invited to participate. Registered participants must raise a minimum of $1,000 in donations to earn a spot in the rappelling lineup.