Stillwater man recalls thrilling rappelling experiences of yesteryear

Jul 13, 2021

When Dennis McCarthy of Stillwater heard about The Salvation Army’s upcoming Down for the Challenge rappelling event at Mall of America, many fond memories came bubbling up. 

The 54-year-old suddenly remembered his first rappelling experience, when he was enlisted in the U.S. Army in the mid-1980s.   

“I was a safety on a rappel tower while serving at Fort Bragg, North Carolina,” said Dennis, who served in the military for 10 years and now works as a controller at Marketing Incentives Resources. “We would hook up Australian Style and race down the wall face-first.”

Dennis then recalled another exciting rappelling experience: In 2016, when he descended the U.S. Bank Plaza building in downtown Minneapolis (pictured).

“It was the ‘Double Dog Dare’ fundraiser for Boy Scouts,” Dennis said. “I waved at some people having a meeting in one of the offices as I rappelled by. When I got to the ground I asked to go again, like a little kid.”

Dennis will make more thrilling memories on Sept. 18, when he rappels down a 14-story building at Mall of America. He is one of hundreds of people participating in Down for the Challenge, a fundraising event that raises money for Salvation Army housing and homelessness-prevention programs in the Twin Cities.

Dennis is as delighted to rappel as he is to raise money for people in need. He has spent his life serving in all kinds of ways, including:

  • Volunteering to help bocce ball and basketball teams for Special Olympics
  • Vice president of the Bayport Lions Club
  • Treasurer of Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Bayport
  • Coaching youth baseball, football and hockey
  • Den leader for Boy Scouts

“I love to volunteer and help others,” Dennis said. “I would love to win the lottery and volunteer full-time.”

As of July 13, Dennis has raised $941 for Down for the Challenge – just $59 away from the $1,000 minimum needed to rappel. He is sure to reach that goal, especially considering the funny way he has been soliciting donations:

“Please consider helping the homeless in Minnesota and throwing me off a building,” he jokingly tells potential donors.   

Are you Down for the Challenge? Be among hundreds of people to rappel down a 14-story building at Mall of America, with chances to win awesome prizes. All proceeds fund local Salvation Army housing and homelessness-prevention programs. Learn more or register at

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