For four years, Girl Scouts of Southern Arizona has taken fundraising to new heights, challenging Southern Arizonans to go “Over the Edge” and rappel down the 17 stories of 5151 E. Broadway Blvd. To date, we've had more than 300 “Edgers” participate in the event—and this year, for the first time, eight of the brave philanthropists taking the plunge are Girl Scouts themselves.
High schoolers Erin Allen, Jordan Baker, Jaquelyn Gadziala, McKenna Heck, Citlaly Lopez, Aliya McDonald, Audrey Ramos and middle-schooler Alexis Pate have been Girl Scouts for years, many of them since kindergarten. In that time, they've experienced a wide range of programs and opportunities, and reaped many of Girl Scouting's extraordinary benefits—including the inclination to seek challenges and make a difference. Now, they have joined forces as Team G.I.R.L., in support of Southern Arizona’s next generation of Go-getters, Innovators, Risk-takers, and Leaders.
For Jaquelyn, Girl Scouting has provided endless leadership opportunities. Currently a Girl Member on the GSSoAZ Board of Directors, Jackie is also working toward her Gold Award, and plans to volunteer at the Our Cabaña in Mexico this summer. “I want to push myself outside of my comfort zone—17 stories outside of my comfort zone!" Jackie says. "Girl Scouts has helped shape me into the woman I am today and I want to guarantee that other girls will be as blessed as I have been with opportunities.”
McKenna Heck, sophomore class president at Buena High School in Sierra Vista, and Miss Copper State’s Outstanding Teen 2018, agrees. “Every girl should have the opportunity to experience everything Girl Scouts has to offer,” she says. McKenna is committed to making those opportunities possible for younger Girl Scouts, by raising funds through Over the Edge to support programs she loves, like the Girl Volunteer Corps. A recipient of the Bronze and Silver Awards, McKenna is about to start working on her Gold Award, and credits Girl Scouts with teaching her the importance of serving her community.
Last year, Erin Allen, a Girl Member on the GSSoAZ Board of Directors, published an Arizona Daily Star op-ed on the benefits of Girl Scouting. She points to many of the same statistics behind her decision to go Over the Edge. “Studies have shown that Girl Scouts possess more confidence than non-Girl Scouts, and are more likely to seek out challenges,” Erin explains. A challenge-seeker herself, Erin is rappelling down a Tucson skyscraper because “it is so important to me to support other girls so they can experience the same awesome adventures that I have.”
“I know for a fact many of the opportunities I have been given would not have been possible if not for Girl Scouts,” agrees Aliya McDonald. In the eight years she’s been a Girl Scout, Aliya has attended firefighting and engineering camps, traveled to London and Paris, and honed her leadership skills as a counselor at Camp Whispering Pines. She credits the Girl Scout Cookie Program with her goal-setting and communication skills, and a lifetime of confidence.
“Most of all, I was given the ability to explore who I am and what I can do to help my community," Aliya says. "If I can help other girls do the same, then I know everything will have been worth it.”
Jordan Baker, a freshman at Cienega High School, is no stranger to risk-taking. Her mom is assistant chief of Tucson Fire—the highest rank that a woman has held in the history of the Tucson Fire Department—and a founder of Camp Fury, which gives Girl Scouts the opportunity to explore the firefighting and law enforcement fields hands-on. Since sixth grade, Jordan, has participated in Catching Fury, the middle school version, which also involves rappeling down a building. But though rappelling itself won't be new to Jordan, 17 stories is definitely taking her fearlessness to a new level...not to mention being able to support Girl Scouts at the same time.
As an eighth-grader at Gridley Middle School, Alexis Pate is the youngest member of Team G.I.R.L.! Currently working toward her Silver Award, she is a dedicated member of our Girl Volunteer Corps, and has previously served as a Program Aide at camp. This spring, Alexis will even be stepping up as a Camp Aide at Jamboree, our biannual opportunity for Girl Scouts from both Arizona councils to celebrate their sisterhood while camping out at Roper Lake State Park. But before Jamboree takes place in April, Alexis will be rappelling down the 5151 Building in support of her Girl Scout sisters right here in Southern Arizona.
Citlaly Lopez knows for certain that going Over the Edge makes a tangible difference in girls' lives. She herself is a member of Adelante Jovencitas, a program funded by Over the Edge that translates to "girls moving forward." Twice a month, she and other teen girls from the community meet at Angel Charity Place for Girls to participate in life skills development, service learning projects, self-esteem building, financial literacy, educational field trips, career exploration, and building sisterhood. Most recently, they explored computer programming at the Apple Store. Already a Go-getter, Innovator, and Leader, Citlaly is ready to embrace the "R" for "Risk-taker" and go Over the Edge in support of the Girl Scout programs that have made an impact in her own life.
Last but not least is lifelong Girl Scout Audrey Ramos. At 14, she represented GSSoAZ at the Girl Scout National Convention in Utah, and her Girl Scout adventures have included a two-week canoe trip in Canada that helped pave the way for rappelling down a 17-story building.
“That trip showed me and the other girls how strong we really are,” Ramos says. “I’ve always wanted to challenge myself to go Over the Edge, and this is my chance! I also know that my involvement will inspire other young girls. Showing this support for them will motivate them to set high goals and dreams for themselves; and giving back through fundraising will make it so other girls don’t have to compromise their dreams just because they may not have the financial means.”
These eight incredible young women truly embody the mission of the Girl Scout Movement: to build girls of courage, confidence, and character who make the world a better place. You can support Team G.I.R.L.’s fundraising efforts at their donation page. Or, come cheer them on in person, on Saturday, March 24, 2018, at the 5151 Building on Broadway.