Flagler Beach resident Chris Dalessio, 49, stepped off the boom lift amid claps and cheers at precisely 2:01 p.m. on Aug. 27.
Dalessio spent exactly 45 hours 40 feet in the air — from 5 p.m. Aug 25 to 2 p.m. Aug 27 — in a boom lift at Veteran's Park in Flagler Beach. He said that while he was happy to step up to the plate — or rather, go up in the air — to help out kids, he was glad to be down on the ground again.
"I enjoyed it. The weather was perfect," he said. "I should have used more sunblock, like my wife said."
All of the proceeds from Dalessio's "Perch-A-Thon" fundraiser will go to Bunnell Elementary School. The Perch-A-Thon raised $7,000, plus 80 pounds of food donations and about eight boxes of school supplies.
Dalessio said his church, Salty Church in Flagler Beach, had inspired him to do a fundraiser when it adopted BES as its project school. But it wasn’t until he talked to his friend and the former BES Principal Marcus Sanfilippo about the school’s $15,000 in unpaid lunches that Dalessio knew how he could help.
The Perch-A-Thon didn't meet its goal, but Dalessio said that's OK: The money raised will still help free up funding for other needs the school and kids might have.
Dalessio said he reached out to businesses and community members to sponsor and volunteer for the fundraiser.
The To-Do Dudes, a college and high school student company founded by Flagler County high school graduates, was one of the businesses that volunteered to help. Founder Erik Libby said the To-Do Dudes regularly partner with the Flagler County Education Foundation, so helping with the Perch-A-Thon was a no-brainer.
Libby heard about it because he and Dalessio both attend Salty Church.
"[Chris] has such a heart for people and just the community and wanting to raise money for students," Libby said. "[This is] a great way to do it and get the community involved around it."
To-Do Dudes employees stood on the sidewalks and corners around Veteran's Park with donation buckets and sold raffle tickets. Isabella Pitts and brothers Michael and Matthew Johnson, all 17-year-old FPC students, said it was a great opportunity to help their community.
"We all agree that giving back to our community is really important," Michael Johnson said. "Not only as our mission as our company, but also the mission in ourselves."
The community regularly comes together in times of need, Dalessio said, and the support for the Perch-A-Thon just makes him think about what his next project could be. He said the event would not have been possible without support from the community and Flagler Beach businesses.
"When I went there and spoke to [the business owners], there was no hesitation," Dalessio said. "Flagler Beach is known for taking care of each other and taking care of their community."