Johnny Thunderbird Flies

Despite the challenge of a windy and rainy day,  Johnny Thunderbird, along with several other celebrities and VIPs, successfully rappelled down a 470-foot building for an event that raised more than $250,000 to benefit the American Cancer Society, on Sept. 27.

Over the Edge, the name of the fundraiser, is an annual event held in different cities across the country by the ACS to help raise awareness and donations for cancer research. According to Division Director of Coaches vs. Cancer, Anthony Marino, this was the first year Over the Edge took place in this location.

Marino, in an interview with the Torch, said he was glad that the University was continuing their partnership with Coaches vs. Cancer in new and exciting ways.

“St. John’s has been such a great supporter of Coaches vs. Cancer and the American Cancer Society,” he said.

“We spoke with Mark Fratto [Director of Athletics Communication] and he said ‘What about having Johnny Thunderbird go down’ and we thought that would be something fun and unique.”

The man in the suit, Clint Wolfrom, admitted to having doubts about doing the stunt once he saw the challenge ahead of him.

“At first, I was really confident and pumped up to do it,” he said. “Once I got up on the roof I immediately regretted doing it. I said to myself ‘I’m not sure about this’”

Johnny joined celebrities such as Greg T. from the “Elvis Duran and Morning Show”, FDNY Commissioner Salvatore J. Cassano, Tina Cervasio from the MSG Network and Rutgers men’s basketball coach Mike Rice for the stunt.

After a delay due to heavy rain and wind, the participants were equipped with full rappelling gear and sent to the roof of the building where they received a quick training session, learning the mechanics of rappelling.

While preparing for the near 500-foot stunt, Wolfrom lost his footing at the edge of the roof. “My first instinct was to fly to safety,” he said. “I was worried I couldn’t get back to the correct form.”

Wolfrom eventually regained his footing and started to rappel down the building, a journey that would last about ten minutes. Wolfrom said however the process was not as easy as he would’ve liked it to be.

“I lost the strength in my forearm about halfway down,” he said. “I was afraid that I was going to be stuck there.”

Once he reached the bottom, Wolfrom celebrated his accomplishment by dancing for the crowd at the bottom, the energy to do so, he said, came out of nowhere.

“I was so relieved to hit the bottom,” he said. “I could barely stand up but I felt like I should’ve put on a show.”

When asked if he would rather had a professional down in the suit, Wolfrom simply said, “No.”

“Johnny Thunderbird does his own stunts. I’d still do it again.”