During her first attempt at rappelling down the 28-story face of the Baltimore Marriott Waterfront Hotel last summer, Mays Chapel resident Barbara Case understandably focused on making it down safely.
Now, with last year's experience as reassurance that her rappel will again end safely, Case plans to take in the scenic Inner Harbor view and enjoy the atmosphere as she descends onto the hotel pool deck this weekend.
"Going down, it was a beautiful day, and the windows are reflective," Case said about last year's rappel. "But I didn't look. This year, I think I will."
The harbor view on a spring morning is just an ancillary benefit of the 4th Annual Rappel for Kidney Health, which will be held on Saturday, June 8, at the Baltimore Marriott Waterfront.
The event is a fundraiser for the National Kidney Foundation of Maryland, with the money raised going toward patient services for those who have had or need kidney transplants, among other things.
Last year's rappelling event also provided a special opportunity for Case and one of her longtime patients, 18-year-old Jared Weiner, of Owings Mills.
As a pediatric nephrology nurse with 36 years of service at Johns Hopkins Hospital, 29 of which were spent in the pediatric nephrology department, Case has been Weiner's nurse since his diagnosis of kidney disease at 9 months. She helped him through the kidney transplant he received from his mother at age 10.
Case has seen countless kidney disease patients grow from their diagnosis to adulthood, when they outgrow the pediatric services.
That the pair had such a history made it extra meaningful to Case, particularly for what it said about Weiner's health.
"I'd known him his whole life," she said. "He was in a good place. He had his kidney transplant and is doing well. He goes to school, he takes his medicines every day, but he lives a normal life and we got to do that together."
Weiner will graduate from Beth Tfiloh the day after they rappel, and plans to study the business side of the music industry at Towson University.
Case fondly recalled checking in with Weiner's family at last year's event, while Weiner said it was "great" doing the rappel event with her last year.
"We've been with each other since day one," he said. "She was a little anxious about going over the edge, but we were there helping each other out."
Go Transplantastics Team
For Weiner, who said he's the only kidney transplant patient registered for this year's rappel, the event is one of many adrenaline-pumping activities he's enjoyed since his transplant.
Shortly after his kidney transplant at age 10, his family took a trip to Disney World and he relished the chance to go on all of the roller coasters.
"I'm definitely a thrill seeker," he said. "Ever since then, I've taken full advantage of that."
Case views the rappelling more as a fundraiser than a hobby. Her phobia is cats, not heights, she said, and dangling over the side of a 28-story hotel was "not that big of a deal."
"Everybody is like, 'I can't believe you're doing this,'" she said. "It's not like I had to train for a marathon and I've been training for months and I hope I can make 26 miles. It's something I know I can do."
The pair likely won't rappel at the same time this year — Weiner's 14-year-old brother, Matthew, will join him this year — but they're part of the 12-member Transplantastics Team from Johns Hopkins.
"It's really great to represent them and help out the National Kidney Foundation with raising money for something that's very close and personal to me, and helping other people get through what I went through," Weiner said.
Case, who is now on the event's planning committee, said this year they've exceeded their goal of 90 participants. All participants are required to raise $1,000 for a chance to rappel, and as of Thursday, May 30, donations totaled nearly $75,000.
For more information on the 2013 Rappel for Kidney Health, and to donate to participants, visit www.kidneymd.org.