Sultan wheelchair athlete plans to rappel down skyscraper

SULTAN — Dale Doornek has gone bungee jumping, hang gliding and sky diving. Now he’s using that adventurous spirit to help others.

Doornek, who is 47 and paralyzed from the chest down, is preparing to rappel down a 490-foot building in downtown Seattle to raise money for Special Olympics Washington.

If successful, he will be the first person to do it in a wheelchair in Washington state.

He’s hoping to raise $5,000 in donations for the nonprofit.

That would be enough money to send eight athletes to Special Olympic competitions and pay for their training and equipment for a year.

“They have the right to live the best life that they can live,” said Doornek of Special Olympians.

So far, Doornek has raised more than $1,600, which reserves him a spot to rappel down a skyscraper at 1000 Second Avenue at the event called “Over the Edge,” scheduled for 8 a.m. Aug. 11 and 12. He hasn’t been told which day that he’ll go during the event.

Doornek, who was paralyzed in a motorcycle accident in 1994, has worked hard to keep fit. He regularly trains to strengthen his upper body, going to the gym six days a week. He’s continuing this workout schedule to prepare for the event. He works out his shoulders, arms and chest using rope exercises for about an hour at Thrive Community Fitness in Monroe.

Although he’s done extreme sports in the past, he has never done anything like this.

“You are going down a building that is 40 stories high, backwards and on a wheelchair. It’s going to be nerve wracking,” he said.

Doornek so far has received donations from friends and family. He is also sending emails and using Facebook to let others know about the event.

As a way to get more attention, Doornek promises he will wear a clown suit if he raises his $5,000 goal.

Doornek could rappel with another climber or he could rappel by himself in a wheelchair. He is hoping to do it in the wheelchair. He needs assistance, because he cannot use his own legs on the descent.

Technicians are willing to help accommodate Doornek for this event, said Ashley Stanfield, developing director for Special Olympics Washington.

“The goal is to have him rappel down with his wheelchair,” she said.

Anyone can participate in the event, but people must be older than 18 years old, weigh between 100 and 300 pounds and raise at least $1,250 by Aug. 8. There are 140 people registered for the event, she said.

This is the third year for the event. In 2011, the organization raised $240,000. The group hopes to raise $300,000 this year, Stanfield said.

“Over the Edge” is the second biggest annual fundraiser that Special Olympics Washington holds, spokesman Dan Wartelle said.

The nonprofit supports 10,000 athletes with disabilities. Of those, 2,200 live between north of Seattle and the Canadian border, including Snohomish County.

Alejandro Dominguez: 425-339-3422; adominguez @heraldnet.com.

Learn more

To learn more about the “Over the Edge” event, go to the Special Olympics Washington website at www.specialolympicswashington.org. The event is scheduled to start at 8 a.m. Aug. 11 and 12, 1000 Second Ave., Seattle.

Dale Doornek can receive donations through the website http://oteseattle2012.kintera.org. Click on “Support an Edger” and enter his name.

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