I stood on the side of a bridge…
On December 5th, 1999, I stood on the side of a bridge, ready to end my life. I let go of the side of that bridge, and by the Grace of God, and the assistance of six Police Officers, I am still alive today. Officer (RET) Ross Contipelli had grabbed my hand before I fell to my death. Officer Contipelli nearly lost his life saving mine. If it weren’t for Officer Brian Sturgill, who grabbed Contipelli’s gun belt before he went over with me, I wouldn’t be telling you this story today. It took 6 minutes and 21 seconds for Officers Greg Tinnirello, Dave Zemko, Greg Smagola, Chris Cross, John Kurtz and Dave Bailey, to cut the fencing to rescue both of us.
“I could never, on my own, have saved her life without the help of my comrades,” said Officer Contipelli in a later interview. “Myself and all the other Officers involved were instruments of God. It was not her time to die.”
I am here today to fulfill my God-given purpose. I believe one of the ways I’m meant to do that is by climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro on September 11th -22nd, 2016. I believe I’ve been called to stand on top of that mountain as a sign of God’s victory in my life.
I am climbing to bring honor to these Officers and to bring awareness to the hard work and dedication our police officers give out every single day. Their heroic efforts and those of so many of our men and women in blue, need to be shared now more than ever.
I am climbing this mountain to bring HOPE back to the people of Cleveland. Launching in 2016 is a new non-profit organization called The Cleveland Hope Center. The Cleveland Hope Center will help those hurting in our very own backyard. It will provide resources for food, job placement, counseling, and hope to people in need.
I am climbing to bring HOPE to people suffering from addiction, depression. I am climbing to bring HOPE to those who are lost and suicidal. I am climbing to bring HOPE to women in abusive relationships who feel there is no way out. I am climbing for teenagers who are lost and alone and feel like no one understands. I am climbing for teenage girls lacking self-esteem and HOPE. I am climbing for the addict that is surrounded by darkness. My HOPE is that all of these people will see that there is a light within reach.
Seventeen years later, with your help, I will be standing on a mountain instead of a bridge, looking at a breathtaking view that I couldn’t have imagined back in 1999. So from the bottom of my heart, thank you for allowing me to share my story and purpose with you.