If you missed your chance to climb down the side of the five-story, 98-foot-tall Centier Corporate Centre tower in Merrillville in July, you'll get another chance to test your mettle next year.

The Lake Area United Way has decided to bring back the Over the Edge fundraiser, during which people descend the bank tower like Batman, after the LAUW raised about $50,000 for struggling working families in Lake County. Centier and The Times Media Co. partnered on the inaugural event this year, in which 60 people paid a $95 registration fee and had to raise $1,000 in pledges from friends, family and colleagues to rappel down the side of Centier's corporate headquarters near U.S. 30 and Interstate 65 in Merrillville.

"Overall, we felt like it was a huge success with the folks that came," LAUW President and CEO Lisa Daugherty said. "We see some opportunity to make it bigger and better. We see lots of opportunity for tailgating around the event. We're hoping that organizations will come out and cheer their person on, that they'll have like a fan club watching them rappel down."

The Lake Area United Way still needs to decide what to do with the money from the first fundraiser. 

"It will go to helping needy families," Daugherty said. 

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The nonprofit supports various programs to benefit struggling working families who can't afford basic necessities, like transportation, despite working multiple jobs and in some cases aren't eligible for public assistance. It's estimated that one in four families in Lake County falls into the category of Asset-Limited, Income-Constrained and Employed, or ALICE, where they're above the poverty line but often living paycheck to paycheck.

Next year, the Over the Edge fundraiser may take place in the summer or the fall.

"The committee was in full agreement that we want to do it again, but we're going back-and-forth with the vendor on whether it will be in the summer or the fall," she said. "It will be sometime in between June and October. It was a great event and we look forward to it being bigger and better next year."

The Lake Area United Way hopes more people will sign up for the chance to rappel down the Centier tower as more learn about or become familiar with the event.

"Now they can wrap their heads around it. I don't think everybody knew what to expect," Daugherty said. "Now they know."


Business Reporter

Joseph S. Pete is a Lisagor Award-winning business reporter who covers steel, industry, unions, the ports, retail, banking and more. The Indiana University grad has been with The Times since 2013 and blogs about craft beer, culture and the military.