Event recap: 200 rappelers go ‘Down for the Challenge’ at Mall of America (VIDEO)

Sep 21, 2021

After months of buildup, The Salvation Army’s Down for the Challenge rappelling event took place Sept. 18 at Mall of America, where about 200 people descended the JW Marriott hotel to fight homelessness. (See event photos and posed photos.) 

Women and men of all ages and backgrounds took the plunge. Most were nervous as they stood on the edge of the hotel roof, staring wide-eyed at the pavement 14 stories below.

“It was scarier than I thought,” admitted a rappeler named Rachel, chuckling, right after she’d reached the bottom. “I thought I would be fine, but it turns out I was lying to myself.”

Despite her fears, Rachel said she would do it all over again to help people in need. She works at a Minneapolis hospital, where she sees firsthand the problems associated with homelessness.  

“Many of the patients we serve are homeless,” Rachel said. “It’s a complicated problem without a straight answer. But if we all chip in, we can make things better for everybody.”

Down for the Challenge raised tens of thousands of dollars for Salvation Army housing and homelessness-prevention programs in the Twin Cities. The Salvation Army operates 25 Minnesota housing facilities that shelter hundreds of people every night, with rent assistance programs that last year saved 2,400 local households from eviction. 

Staff from several event sponsors participated in the event, including Jill Renslow (pictured), Executive Vice President of Business Development for Mall of America.  

“Mall of America is honored to partner with The Salvation Army and be the host site for Down for the Challenge,” Renslow said, during a press conference held on the roof of Mall of America.  

Many staff members from event sponsor Morrie’s Auto Group joined the fun as well, including members of the company’s executive team and team members from each of Morrie’s locations in Minnesota. 

“It’s important that we step out of our comfort zone and challenge ourselves to be more, as well as challenge ourselves to create more awareness for others in need,” said Lance Iserman (pictured), CEO of Morrie’s Auto Group.

Additional Down for the Challenge sponsors included Cub, Minnesota Vikings, K102, Lifetime Fitness, Conquer Ninja, Finish Line Wellness, DJ Bonics, Minnesota Twins, Star Tribune, SCHEELS, The Window Store, ParkitectBlue Cross Blue Shield Minnesota, 3M, Chick-fil-A, and Larkin Hoffman.

“Thank you to every rappeler, donor, volunteer, and partner for making this event a reality,” said Lt. Col. Dan Jennings, leader of The Salvation Army Northern Division. “Your efforts have helped The Salvation Army to keep people in their homes and off the streets. May God bless you all for being Down for the Challenge.”


Please join The Salvation Army by giving a donation or signing up to volunteer. Your help will provide food, shelter and care for people and families in desperate need.

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