UM System President Mun Choi hangs off Tiger Hotel for charity

Love INC hosted an urban rappelling fundraiser with Over the Edge to help people move out of poverty.
Mun Choi, the UM System President. Maneater Photo Archive

UM System President Mun Choi dangled 110 feet in the air off the side of the Tiger Hotel on Sept. 28 in order to help raise money for Love In the Name of Christ.

Love INC held their second annual fundraiser where people could register, raise $1,000 and rappel down the side of the Tiger Hotel with the help from the urban rappelling fundraising company, Over the Edge. The money raised will go to Love INC’s programs that help people in Columbia move out of poverty.

A camera positioned at the top of the Tiger Hotel provided a live feed for the people below to see the “edgers” sit in their harnesses as they waited to begin their descent. Choi waved to the people below and gave the camera a thumbs-up.

On the ground, a sea of people craned their necks to see Choi and entrepreneur Greg DeLine make a slow descent. Choi and DeLine started racing down, but in their enthusiasm Choi became temporarily stuck and had to stand on a window sill.

“It was nerve racking and my rope got locked up,” Choi said. “When I descended too fast, the mechanism braked like a seat belt. My friend, Greg DeLine, waited for me, and they gave some slack to the rope, so I could reset it.”

Once on the ground, Choi and DeLine hugged and smiled for photos.

“I believe that it’s important for the university and the community of the university faculty staff and students to support an important organization like Love INC,” Choi said. “They do such important work in providing support for families that need a little help to get by and to get themselves out of poverty.”

Love INC helps people out of poverty by starting a conversation. They talk about the immediate problems a person might have and then find out where it all started.

“When people have a problem, the most important thing is that they need hope, even more important than cash right off the bat,” Mike DeSantis, Mobilization Director for Love INC, said. “They need hope. They want to be listened to. By listening to someone, you’re saying I respect your time and I respect you. I’ve shown you you’re important to me, and that’s the first thing people need.”

Even though homelessness might not seem obvious in downtown Columbia, poverty is still present and comes in more forms than just homelessness. The city had a 22.9% poverty rate in 2017 in comparison to the 14.6% poverty rate the whole state had that same year, according to Data USA.

“[The fundraiser] will create a greater awareness of poverty in our own community, and it turns out that the rate of poverty in Columbia is higher than the Missouri average,” Choi said. “So, we need to be good neighbors and support each other.”

Love INC provides programs like transitional housing, free basic needs, furniture and bikes, helmets, and locks for transportation as well as multiple coaching programs teaching money management, life goals and job preparation.

“People go to school who are struggling,” DeSantis said. “People go to work who are struggling. Poverty is not always obvious. This is why it’s so hard for people to understand that people need help.”

When the event closed, rappellers had raised $48,142.

“When you have hope in your life, you can go forward,” DeSantis said. “Without hope, it’s just a dark, dark, dark place to be in. We’re leading people out of darkness into a better, brighter future.”

Edited by Laura Evans | levans@themaneater.com

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