Taking the plunge.

Taking the plunge.


Susan Toalson has an adventurous streak.

When she was younger, she tried skydiving, hang gliding and bungee jumping.

Those risky sports were sidelined once she had children.

But when some University of Illinois students asked her to rappel down 17-story Illini Tower this weekend, she said yes.

The Skyline Plunge! event on Sunday will raise money for the Respiratory Health Association of Metropolitan Chicago and the UI Sports, Tourism and Recreation Association.

The UI student group has helped Toalson – executive director of the Urbana Business Association – with special events, including last fall’s “Uptown Fridays.” Her organization has a student intern from the sports, tourism and recreation program every semester.

“I can’t say no to those guys, because they always say yes to me,” Toalson said. “They’re my secret weapon. They are such talented, hard-working individuals, if I can thank them in some small way … “

She was also eager to help the respiratory health association. Her husband and children have asthma, and Toalson liked that the organization deals with all sorts of respiratory illnesses, rather than limiting itself to one.

“I thought that was neat to have a big picture and help work with all those different diseases,” she said.

Even with her previous adventures, Toalson is anxious about the rappel. Over the years, she’s acquired a fear of heights. She’s hoping the rappel will help conquer it.

“It sounds like fun, but at the end of day, I’m a little nervous,” she admitted.

She’s got a plan though. Participants will do a practice rappel on a four-story building before heading to the top of Illini Tower.

“I’m looking for the adrenaline rush (from the shorter rappel), I’ll have a shot of espresso, immediately run up there really fast and just get ‘er done,” Toalson said.

She’s still open to input.

“If anyone else has a better plan, if there’s a better way to attack this, share it with me,” she said.

Toalson is covering all her bases. She got an extra blessing at church last Sunday.

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