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Scaling New Heights

By on July 5, 2017

It’s not as if she didn’t know what she was getting herself into. staff photographer Karen Fien photographed this event for an article in our November 2016 edition of, she even received a 3rd place award at the Free Community Papers of New York (FCPNY) 2017 Spring Conference and Trade Show for a picture she took on that day. On May 19, 2017 Karen had her chance to experience the feeling for herself as she rappelled the 21 stories of the First Federal Building in downtown Rochester as part of the 21 Stories for Scouts fundraiser.

The 21 Stories for Scouts is an annual rappelling event and is considered an “extreme” fundraising event that the Seneca Waterways Council began eight years ago designed to break away from the traditional fundraisers. The goal was to create an event that is more closely identified with Scouting.

Karen expressed an interest in participating in the event, and when she was asked if she would like to rappel on Media Day she didn’t hesitate to say “Yes.” Karen says losing her dad when he was only 63 years old had a huge impact in how she lives her life. “I realized that life is short and to live life fully is very important,” she says.

That doesn’t mean that Karen wasn’t nervous about rappelling down the 21 stories (309 ft.) of the First Federal Building. “I drove by the building five different times just looking up at it,” she says. When the day came, the rappel was postponed a day because of winds. “I was nervous up until  the time when I stepped out and was hanging over the side of the building. At that point I had no fear and all I could think about is why did I get myself so worked up over this. It was wonderful,” she says.

Each rappeller is accompanied by a support person, in Karen’s case it was Horace Dyfield, a Greece resident that works in security for the First Federal Building. “Horace was the perfect partner. He made me feel comfortable, he was very supportive, we were joking around and he made it fun so I wasn’t nervous,” Karen says.

Karen was one of approximately 65 people that scaled the First Federal Building for this year’s 21 Stories for Scouts Fundraiser. Over the eight years of the rappelling event nearly $400,000 has been raised. This year’s rappel raised over $44,000. Money raised will be used to support 1,235 youth in traditional scouting programs throughout Rochester and 36 after school programs.

For more information about the event visit For general information on Scouting visit

Provided Photos



Horace Byfield and Karen Fien sign the 21 Stories board after rappelling the First Federal Building.

Horace Byfield and Karen Fien sign the 21 Stories board after rappelling the First Federal Building.