On Friday June 7, I faced another one of my fears by participating in a fundraiser for Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. Riding a roller coaster, my fear was different that most people. I don’t have a fear of heights anymore. Thanks to me going Over The Edge. It’s not that funny feeling you get in the 0g bumps. My fear comes from my last trip to Cedar Point back in 1996, we were there for senior skip day, and I was looking forward to riding the coasters, but I couldn’t, I didn’t fit. I was just to big.
That was then, and I’m a new person now. So I decided to face my fears head on by signing up for a coasterthon. You have never heard of a coasterthon, we let me fill you in. This one was set up on a ride called Mind Bender at Six Flags Over Georgia. The plan was to start at 10am and ride till 7pm. Six Flags had set aside one of the two trains for us to use. So we were able to ride non stop, minus a few 5 minute breaks to use the bathroom and 30 minutes for lunch
When the coasterthon started we had 32 brave soles, that agreed to take on this challenge. Because each car only holds 28 riders, Six Flags gave us the first 4 seats on the second train as well. That way we could all start riding at the same time. It didn’t didn’t take long for people to start getting sick. by the start of the 3 loop someone got sick and had to bow out. That is when I knew it was going to be a long day. Things were going well for the first 9 loops I sat in the back of train 1. Every once and a while we would get up and choose a new seat, It was in one of these that I meet up with my coaster buddies Ali Riddle, Richard Rock, and Michelle Bryan . Once we joined up it was one giant party! It is funny the things you will talk about and the things you will do when you are riding the same roller coaster loop after loop. For me, I found my self focusing on trying to grab leafs of the trees as we passed. I found out that if you were in the front or the back you had the best chance of grabbing them because when you are in the middle of the train, the leaves get blown way by the air of the train passing, but by the time the end of the train goes by, they branch has come back to it original location if not even a little closer to the train. On another loop Ali and I tried to look at each other and talk, completely trying to ignore the fact that we were on a roller coaster that worked for a while until we hit one of the high G sections of the ride, and I collapsed like a pretzel. To quote Ali it looked like I was having a seizure, we could not stop laughing. Our first long break came at 1:30 where we took a 30 minute break for lunch. It is funny how riding a roller coaster for three and a half hours can make you so hungry. But I knew I needed to eat light, because the last thing i needed on my stomach was a lot of food. To top it off they provided us with greasy chicken sandwiches that has been sitting out for hours I think they were trying to get us sick to see how badly we wanted to make it the full 9 hours. Even though I knew they had been sitting out for hours I was so hungry I had mine, but skipped the chips. When we got back on the ride I was afraid that my stomach was going to give me trouble, but as luck would have it I was fine.
A few hours later Johnny O from Q100 showed up to help cheer us on! It was great seeing them come out in the middle of the even and help keep us motivated by bringing attention to what we were trying to do. While we were at the station between loops he came up to me and asked about fact that this was my first time riding a roller coaster since high school, and about my weight loss. A little later in one of our 5 minute bathroom breaks, i grabbed my big pants and showed him what I use to wear. The look on his face was priceless! After meeting up with Johnny O we got back on the train, and we experienced our first light rain shower. In the distance you could see even more clouds forming this is when I was glad I had picked up a cheap pair of sunglasses. A few hours later We completed loop 85, and the 17 of us that were still going were told news that we did not want to hear. There was a thunderstorm inbound and they were shutting the ride down. We had been going for over six hours. But we understood, they had us move to our staging area, and that was when I noticed that Goliath, and Batman were still going. This caught me off guard as Goliath is taller than Mind Bender. But I put it aside, as Mind Bender is an older roller coaster and may be more affected by weather. We sat and waited for the rain to come for a good 25 to 30 minutes. This was very odd to me, but I continued to let it go. While we waited for the storm to pass, we were all watching the clock as we knew it would take about 30 minutes after the rain stopped before they would run the required test loops to allow us back on the Mind Bender. Around 6pm they we were told that they would not be starting Mind Bender back up, and they wanted to give out the awards early. We were bummed as all 17 of us wanted to get back on and try to break 100 loops. So we headed back out to the park and found other roller coasters that were running again, and continued to ride, we were asked to return back at 6:45pm so we could eat dinner and give out the prizes. This is where things get sketchy… When we signed up the following prizes we going to be given out depending on how long you could ride.
- Ride for 2 hours and you would receive 2 return tickets.
- Ride for 5 hours and you would receive 4 return tickets
- Ride for 7 hours and you would receive a season pass for 2013 or 2014.
Me being the person I am, I always worry about being on time so I got back to the Mind Bender around 6:30ish and I noticed that people were riding the coaster again. I was so frustrated, and that is when I relied that we had only rode the Mind Bender for 6+ Hours. Then I had a crazy thought, was the reason they closed down the Mind Bender so early was because there were 17 of us left, and they did not want to give out 17 season passes. then I laughed and though no, there is no way, this is a fundraiser for a great cause. They would do the right thing, and since we were all still riding when they shut down the ride they would go ahead a give all 17 of us the season passes.
I when we all gathered at 6:45pm we were told that that the riders that we still riding on the roller coaster we going to be getting 4 return passes, and the 4 top fund raisers that had all raised over $1,000 were going to be getting the season passes. I was upset by this decisions as we technically did not ride the Mind Bender for over 7 hours. That was until I saw this TV news clip from WSBTV where they publicly state that 17 riders received season passes. Then I was just pissed off not at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, but at Six Flags Over Georgia. I really need to repeat this I feel that this decisions was not Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta call but Six Flags. I will continue to do support Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta as they do great things here in Atlanta, and I look forward to helping them out again in the future.
In the end the 32 of us were able to raise $14,505 for Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. It was defiantly worth the sore back and feeling like I was in a car crash on Saturday. I can not wait to do this again next year!