“She had a stroke and the doctor said she would never smile again and the first thing she did was smile,” Rose Hochgraef said.
Hochgraef is talking about her daughter, Gracie.
“I want people to remember her smiling and to also remember when you think you’re having a bad day, it’s not a bad day,” Hochgraef said. “It will be much better if you smile through it.”
Gracie passed away almost two years ago at the age of 12. She suffered from a rare form of muscular dystrophy.
“The one thing I made certain of is she not be limited in anything that she could do and that required a lot of my participation,” Hochgraef said. “Cheerleading, horseback riding, we’ve gone on crazy hikes when she shouldn’t have gone.
“Even though it was physically challenging for me when she was alive, I made sure to stay fit and strong to be able to carry her around and I lost that motivation when she passed away,” Hochgraef continued. “So this is a good way to get me back into shape and to realize I can still make a difference by supporting an organization like Special Olympics.”
Hochgraef is getting ready to participate in the Special Olympics Arizona Over the Edge event. She will be rappelling off the CityScape building in downtown Phoenix.
“I watched a video of someone doing it last year and had a panic attack sitting safely on my couch and still after doing that I signed up and started raising money,” Hochgraef said.
Since Hochgraef is afraid of heights, the best way for her to prepare was not to go rock climbing, but to hit the gym four days a week.
She’s been going to Farrow Competitive Training in Tempe.
“We really focused on teaching me some core strength exercises and getting me aware of more stability for my body posture,” Hochgraef said. “Once I gained some initial strength, we started combining exercises into strength training with more aerobic exercise.”
The team pushing Hochgraef during the workouts are her brother, Rob, who owns the facility, and personal trainer RaeAnn Redder.
“I wanted to get stronger, lose weight, gain muscle and that is where Farrow Competitive Training has been critical in getting me set up for this,” Hochgraef said.
One of the biggest supporters in her quest to raise funds for the Special Olympics Arizona Over the Edge event is her son and Gracie’s brother, Gavin.
“He’s very glad to see that I’m in a good space to where I can comfortable support Gracie and support our family in a positive manner and not be so consumed with grief,” Hochgraef said.
So as the big day nears, Hochgraef will have Gracie close to her heart. She’s wearing her daughter’s Supergirl costume as she makes her leap of courage.
A leap of courage that she hopes will inspire others to help Special Olympics athletes.
“These athletes absolutely appreciate anything and everything you do to support them and they deserve all of the support,” Hochgraef said.
Hochgraef will go Over the Edge tomorrow at 2 p.m. Good Luck!
If interested in helping Hochgraef reach her personal goal of $2,500, check out her donation page — https://www.kintera.org/faf/donorReg/donorPledge.asp?ievent=1129492&supId=423789258
Update: Hochgraef was able to rappel off the CityScape building in 13 minutes. She had a lot of family and friends cheering her on. Hochgraef was also able to pass her fundraising goal of $2,500.