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Over the edge and down the side: Rappelers descend hotel for charity

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Updated: June 7, 2013 6:24AM

As Erin Keller rappeled down the side of the gleaming downtown hotel, Julie Daly looked on, smiled widely and shouted “I am so proud of you!”

Daly suffers from very severe COPD, a lung disease, and Keller’s trek Sunday down the 27 stories of the shiny Wit hotel was in her honor.

“She’s really special to me,” Keller, 23, said of Daly, her former nanny who has become like family.

Keller was one of more than 60 people who participated in Skyline Plunge! at the hotel, 201 N. State, to raise money for the Respiratory Health Association.

Victoria Waliczek stepped over the edge of the building and slowly made her way down the wall — 278 feet — in honor of a friend’s mother who was diagnosed with lung cancer in April.

“If she can go through cancer, I can go down the wall, said Waliczek, 37, of Wicker Park.

Friends, family and bystanders stood at State and Lake watching the participants — two at a time — climb down. Many cheered, blew whistles and shook colorful pompons.

Among those in the crowd was medical student Kevin Wymer, who craned his neck and looked on as he waited for a bus to Hyde Park.

“It’s pretty neat, but I don’t think I could do that,” the 23-year-old said.

Also in the crowd was Salvador Barrera, 24, and his two young children cheering for their mom, Evelyn Lozano.

Lozano, 25, is a housekeeper at the hotel and won a raffle for the chance to rappel down her workplace.

After she stepped back on solid ground, Lozano, of the Back of the Yards neighborhood, couldn’t stop smiling.

“I can’t believe I did this,” she said, her 6-year-old daughter, Denice, at her side.

Asked what she thought of mom, the little girl gave a thumbs up.

For Larry Mitchell, who has had relatives who died from emphysema, it was a chance to raise money and have an adventure.

“It was incredible,” the 60-year-old from Rogers Park said.

Meanwhile, Daly, who was diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in 2012, was thrilled to see Keller, who now lives in Atlanta.

When Keller was unhooked from her harness, she and Daly hugged tightly.

“I am so blessed to have her in my life,” Daly, of Park Ridge, said.

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