Carleton Place Realtor rappels from Ottawa high-rise in aid of Easter Seals

  Rappelling off the top of a 20-storey office building in downtown Ottawa. Not exactly a typical Monday morning for a real estate agent! And yet Ralph Shaw has done the same thing three times in four years.

No, they weren’t publicity stunts! Shaw, a well-known Carleton Place based realtor who is the broker for Century 21 Explorer Realty Inc., did something most people would consider death-defying in aid of a worthy cause. He was part of Monday’s Easter Seals “Drop Zone” in aid of the organization which, for the past 90 years in Ontario, has been offering programs and services to help children and youth with physical disabilities achieve a higher level of acceptance and independence.

Everyone who takes part in Drop Zone has to have at least $1,500 in sponsorship money behind them. The final tally from Monday’s unique charity event was over $80,000.

Shaw, the current vice-president of the Ottawa Real Estate Board, was one of many people who rappelled down the outside face of the Morguard Building on Slater Street in the heart of the nation’s capital Monday. Among them were a number of professionals including police officers and firefighters. They are experts at rappelling by the very nature of their jobs.

Most of the participants were amateurs, from various walks of life, who accomplished the feat strictly to assist the good work of Easter Seals. Also among those taking part in the annual event were a number of people who refused to let their own disabilities stand in the way of assisting such a worthy cause.

It was all very inspiring for Shaw and for Arnprior Century 21 Explorer Realty agent Angela Havey who, dressed as a court jester, accompanied her boss on his long walk down the outside of the glass tower. She too had two previous Drop Zone experiences behind her.

“Wow, it was a long way down this year,” Shaw said as he was assisted out of his safety harness by a project volunteer.

After he and Havey exchanged high-fives, the veteran realtor said the experience was all worth it. “If you ever go to Camp Merrywood (a camp between Smiths Falls and Perth operated by the Easter Seal Society) you will see how important this (fundraiser) is,” Shaw observes.

“We (Century 21) have Corporate Days at Camp Merrywood. As soon as people go there they are hooked,” he underlines.

There’s no question Century 21 is a major contributor to Easter Seals and the organization’s many good works.

Raised millions

“Easter Seals is Century 21’s charity of choice. World-wide we have raised more than $100 million on their behalf since we became involved,” Shaw outlines.

In Ontario Easter Seals provides financial assistance for the purchase of costly mobility equipment and communications devices. In this province the organization owns and operates two fully accessible camp properties, Camp Merrywood in Eastern Ontario and another facility near London which serves Southwestern Ontario.

A spokesperson for the organization says Easter Seals Ontario is recognized “as an industry leader in providing specialized camping and recreation programs for kids with physical disabilities.”

Shaw says that even the stress which results from standing on the precipice of a high-rise building and realizing you are going to walk down the outside with only the aid of ropes and a special safety harness is worth it.

 “Easter Seals is a very special organization,” he underlines.

The long-time realtor would not admit to having a fear of heights. “Let’s just say I have a respect for heights,” he smiled, before he and Havey were escorted to an elevator to begin their latest Drop Zone experience.

“Being strapped into the harness is a little bit scary,” he adds. “But it is the start that is the worst. Once you get going it’s not so bad.”

Shaw wore a helmet camera during his descent and before heading for the office tower the volunteer in charge of the video said, “Try to make sure you turn your head as often as possible.”

After being interviewed by a television crew, Shaw and Havey were asked if they wanted to watch the footage Shaw himself had captured. “You did very well,” the video technician said enthusiastically as he replayed the footage which clearly showed much of Havey’s rappelling adventure. The street and the crowd watching proceedings from below were also visible at times.  “You can get a copy of this and use it any way you wish,” the volunteer told Shaw. “That’s pretty cool,” he answered while admitting he was “happy to have my feet back on terra firma.”

   Article by Jeffrey Maguire