Olympian Kimmie Meissner going great heights for kidney research - Baltimore Post-ExaminerBaltimore Post-Examiner

Olympian Kimmie Meissner going great heights for kidney research

Baltimore’s Kimmie Meissner climbed the summit of the figure skating world when she became an world champion in 2006.

Now she’s trying to topple another challenge: raising money for kidney research.

For the second consecutive year, Meissner will participate in the Rappel for Kidney Health, which takes place Saturday, June 9, at the Baltimore Marriott Waterfront hotel.

The fundraising event, held by the National Kidney Foundation, will allow adventure-seekers, “edgers” with connections to kidney disease, and even transplant donors and recipients of all ages to descend 28 stories of the building.

That is the tallest height to date for a Rappel for Kidney Health building.

For Meissner, the cause holds a special meaning.

“My grandfather was on dialysis and passed away waiting for a kidney transplant,” Meissner said. “I feel like going down a building is not such a big deal to help such a great cause like this.”

Meissner said she was contacted by Stan Charles’ wife about doing Rappel last year. Initially, it was scary, but Meissner had fun.

She encourages others to join in and support the foundation’s efforts.

Scared of heights? Don't think about it, Kimmie Meissner said. (Courtesy photo.)

“My advice is to not think too much,” Meissner said.  “I’m not usually afraid of heights. I thought the worst part would be at the beginning, but later I felt like I kept slipping. I had a little freak-out session halfway down, but you have to trust that the lines are secure,” Meissner adzded. “I was feeling the adrenaline and I had an awesome time doing it.”

The National Kidney Foundation of Maryland has ensured that safety is a priority for this unique opportunity. Over the Edge organized the event and will have highly trained industrial rope specialists on-site with safety certifications to oversee everything.

Each participant must raise or donate a minimum of $1,000 to rappel. So far, 85 people have signed up, including individuals from the Baltimore metropolitan area, the Eastern Shore, Delaware, Pennsylvania and New York.

The Fan’s Mark Zinno on 105.7 is one media personality lending his name to the fundraiser.

“I am participating in the third annual Rappel for Kidney Health because I want to raise money to support the programs and services provided by the NKF-MD to kidney patients and their families in my community,” Zinno said on his donation page. “I believe in the mission of the foundation and I want to help them achieve their goals,” he said.

Those who want to contribute can help the cause and support participants including Meissner and Zinno by going to the organizations website.  and then select, “sponsor a participant.”

The first two Rappel for Kidney Health events drew 135 participants and raised over $180,000.

Kelly Meltzer, director of special events for the National Kidney Foundation of Maryland, believes this year could have the largest turnout yet.

Rappel for Kidney Health will give people the chance to make an impact on kidney disease in an extraordinary way,” Meltzer said. “We are very excited to bring the event to the Baltimore Marriott Waterfront, a world-class hotel with spectacular views and a terrific location in Harbor East.”


About the author

Zach Sparks

Zach Sparks is an aspiring journalist with interests in a multitude of different areas including news, human interest stories and sports. A student at Towson University, he currently holds an internship at a public relations and advertising firm in Owings Mills where he writes and distributes press releases for several local non-profit organizations among other duties. He hopes to graduate in the fall of 2012 and parlay his experiences and education as a student into a successful writing career. Contact the author.