By Rob LeDonne
Rancho Santa Fe resident Jerry Morris was looking for a way to give back to the community he loves so much. An alumni of UCSD, Morris is the CEO of NextLevel Internet, a business that caters to the internet needs of local companies. Every year, NextLevel chooses three different nonprofits to support and it was in 2008 when a unique kind of charity came onto his radar: Kids Included Together, or KIT which provides training to community organizations to include children with or without disabilities. Founded in 1997, KIT “has trained 25,000 youth providers in the best practices of inclusion” (according to its official website
), and is open to all kids. More than a quarter of a million youth in San Diego have been through the program at some point in the past 15 years.
“It’s a really neat program and it resonates with our company,” explains Morris on his interest in KIT and charitable organizations in general. “The power of giving back is simple. The more you give the more you get — financially, emotionally and otherwise. To be able to be in a position to give is a great thing.”
It’s that urge to give back which got Morris involved in KIT’s centerpiece fundraiser dubbed “Over the Edge,” a one-of-a-kind event that shatters any preconceived notions of a typical stuffy charity event. Set up to be high profile and give a thrill to donors, Over the Edge repels those who donate down San Diego’s Manchester Grand Hyatt. Located downtown, the Hyatt is the tallest waterfront building on the West Coast of the United States. Repellers start out 33 stories above the ground, or 357 feet, and make their way down — some quicker than others. “The event itself is terrifying for me, I’m afraid of heights,” admits Morris. “But it’s very neat, exciting, fun, and a great cause... that combination makes it a unique event to get involved with.”
The event, which is in its fourth year, has raised a nice chunk of money for KIT so far, and organizers are hoping this year is no exception. In order to boost donations, Morris is taking part in something ominously called “Toss the Boss” during this year’s event. Said Morris: “To raise extra money, we used to hold a raffle, but recently they said they were looking for more CEOs to participate in Over the Edge. So for every CEO that signs up, NextLevel will donate $250 to get their own fundraising teams started. Our goal collectively is to get 10 or 20 CEOs involved.”
CEOs who have already signed up to repel range the gamut from the heads of El Cajon’s Ideal Manufactured Homes, Tierrasanta’s CentrexIT, and real estate agency Cassidy Turley, just to name a few. “We’re hoping to get more CEOs willing to do this,” said Morris. You don’t have to repel or attend the event to contribute; organizers are also hoping for donations through their website as well.
For anyone hesitant about getting involved in such an adrenaline rush, Morris explains that little to no training and preparation is needed beforehand (“except a few sleepless nights,”) and that the whole event is perfectly safe. “I would say to anyone to go for it,” he explains. “Do something thrilling and fun and for good of the community at the same time. Make it happen. Nobody’s gotten hurt doing it; and it’s for a great cause, so why not?”
To find more information about the Over the Edge event, or if you’d like to participate or donate, visit