SON staff, students vote with dollars to determine who'll go 'Over the Edge'Published on Monday, March 26, 2018By: Annie OethIt’s not every day a student in UMMC’s School of Nursing emails a professor to ask her to jump off a building, but that’s just what Lauryn Mendrop did.The senior nursing student and school philanthropy chair emailed Dr. LaDonna Northington, assistant dean for undergraduate programs in the School of Nursing, to see if she’d help the school raise funds for Friends of Children’s Hospital through the Over The Edge with Friends fundraiser set for Saturday, April 21, at the Trustmark building in downtown Jackson. The effort has hopeful participants, called Edgers, raising funds to rappel down the 14-story building.Batson patient Maggie Hanberry was among those rappelling off the 14-story Trustmark building during the 2016 Over The Edge with Friends that raised more than $173,000.“I noticed Over The Edge last year and wanted to help,” said Mendrop, of Madison, “but then I started thinking, ‘How can we involve the whole School of Nursing in this?’”Before long, the school was entered in the Over The Edge leaderboard but needed some leaders.That’s where Northington and Dr. Josie Bidwell, associate professor of nursing, joined the effort. Donors to the School of Nursing’s funds will get to vote on who does the rappelling: Northington or Bidwell.“I knew 100 percent that Dr. Bidwell would do it,” Mendrop said. “I wasn’t sure about Dr. Northington, so I got up my nerve and asked.”Northington’s response: “OK, Lauryn. I’m trusting you.”The goal is to raise at least $1,000, which will secure either Northington or Bidwell, depending on votes, a place in the rappelling line.Morgan“That’s about $4 per nursing student,” Mendrop said.Friends of Children’s Hospital, a nonprofit dedicated to raising funds for Batson Children’s Hospital, has made a $20 million pledge to the Campaign for Children’s of Mississippi for expansion of pediatric facilities at UMMC. For this year’s Over The Edge fundraiser, more than $33,000 has been raised toward the overall goal of $200,000."Since introducing this adventurous and exciting fundraiser in 2016, we have had phenomenal success in terms of dollars raised and community engagement," said Melanie Morgan, Friends board member and co-chair for the event. "We raised over $191,000 and $209,000, respectively, for our first two years, and we're hoping that this year's event will be an even greater success. It's a really unique and fun experience, and anyone is invited to come out and watch the Edgers rappel.”There’s still time to join in the fun, either as a donor or, said Morgan, “sign up to take on a new challenge and be an Edger!”Northington, Bidwell and Mendrop all have ties to pediatric nursing, with Northington starting her career in 1979 at UMMC’s PICU. Bidwell got her start nursing in 2003 at Batson Children’s Hospital. Mendrop is starting out in the PICU where she currently works as a student nurse tech.Chris Davis coaches Mary Ellis Cravey, a former Batson Children's Hospital patient and leukemia survivor, on rappelling just before she descended 14 stories from the top of the Trustmark building in 2016. Looking on are Master Sgt. Mike Callaghan of the Mississippi National Guard and Tiffany Key, child life specialist.“I wouldn’t rappel off a building for just anybody,” Bidwell said. “Pediatric nursing is our specialty. Where your first job is as a nurse grows you into being the nurse you are meant to be. I can walk through the halls at Batson, and it still feels like home.”For Northington, the advent of the new children’s tower, set to open in 2020, is nothing short of amazing. “Having been at UMMC as long as I have, it is exciting to see the evolution of services provided to pediatric patients. We are happy to give toward expanding pediatric care.”So far, the school has raised about half of their goal, as of March 21, and votes online have been a close-to-even split between Northington and Bidwell.Some of the messages left online include “Dr. Northington. In purple heels maybe?!” and “This one is for Josie! I hope there is a video.”Mendrop said nursing students can also volunteer to help Friends of Children’s Hospital at Over The Edge without rappelling off a building. Service hours can be earned on terra firma by helping set up, paint faces and run children’s games, among other jobs.Donation buckets are located in the School of Nursing, or contributions can be made online at the school’s Over The Edge page.