Stepping off of the 32-story Mohegan Sun Casino Resort does not concern Kevin Brown, tribal chairman of the Mohegan Nation, at all. To prove it, he and 60 other members of the Mohegan Nation will rappell down the glass walls of the building in the early morning hours of September 5.
The event is a partnership between Mohegan Sun and “Over The Edge,” an organization that partners with groups to raise money for charities. The September 5 event once again supported the Special Olympics, which raised over $75,000 for Special Olympics Connecticut in 2013. Participants in the event will each raise $1,000 for the privilege of walking down the stunning skyscraper.
Taking a leap for the community is nothing new for the Connecticut tribe. Even though revenues have dropped in recent years, the Mohegans and Mashantucket Pequots have given grants to some Connecticut cities to the tune of $61.8 million in the last year. In 2008, at the height of the casino's success, the fund paid as much as $93 million, according to My Record Journal.
While those funds are offered as part of the compact with the state, The Mohegan Tribe and its owned entities give roughly an additional $1 million annually to improve the local communities. "Donations are very often made in cash donations but we also donate use of the properties and assorted entertainment packages. The individual amounts are not something we release as the Tribe believes charity is just that – charity," reported Charles F. Bunnell, Chief of Staff, External and Governmental Affairs.
Chairman Brown said he spent almost 25 years in the military and rappelling was part of the job. “I did it in the army, so I wasn’t scared,” he said. In fact, he waxed nostalgic, saying, “You can see the house I grew up in from the top of the hotel!”
Donna Haney, Director of Security at the Mohegan Sun Casino, made the trip down the building a few years ago. She said, “If you have a fear of heights, there is a little bit of rush and a lot of flutters when you get to the top.” Haney laughed and said, “Once you step off there is no going back. You are committed.”
Mark Fusco, 22, joined the rappelling team for the first time this year. He watched people prepare for it last year, but when he saw the event on the television show, The Bachelorette, he said, “I have to do it. Now's my chance.” Fusco has participated in several charity events, including St. Baldrick, for which people shave their heads for charity; but he is particularly excited about “Over The Edge.”