Margaret Gronstal of Carroll becomes Wonder Woman for the day as she rappels down a five-story building in a fundraiser for VINE Adult Community Center April 29 
in Mankato, Minnesota.
Margaret Gronstal of Carroll becomes Wonder Woman for the day as she rappels down a five-story building in a fundraiser for VINE Adult Community Center April 29 in Mankato, Minnesota.

May 4, 2017

As Margaret Gronstal began her descent down the side of the building, her Wonder Woman cape fluttered in the breeze.  She looked over at her granddaughter, Meghan Velasquez, who was rappelling with her down the side of a five-story building in a fundraiser to support VINE Adult Community Center in Mankato, Minnesota, where Velasquez works.

“Should we race down?” asked Gronstal, 88.

“Grandma!” Velasquez said. “No!”

Gronstal freed her hands briefly to wave at her family, five stories below, whose members cheered and brandished signs. One depicted Gronstal as Wonder Woman and read, “Yay Grandma! Way to roll! Margaret Gronstal! 88 and going strong!”

When Velasquez initially invited Gronstal to participate in the fundraiser by rappelling down the building to support the organization that caters to adults and elderly residents in the Mankato area, Gronstal didn’t take much time to decide.

“This was never on my bucket list,” she said with a laugh. “But my granddaughter talked me into it, and it was fun to do it — especially for her.”

She had no second thoughts, even as she teetered on the edge of the building’s roof. In fact, Gronstal’s major concern had been whether she’d be able to raise the money required to participate in the event, said her daughter, Mary Bruner, also of Carroll.

It took her only a few days to do so, and then to exceed the $1,000 goal.

When the time came on April 29, Gronstal took an elevator to the top of the building that houses VINE, underwent a brief training session, donned a helmet and was hooked up to a harness, sling and ropes that would support her as she descended. The time for nerves was past, and all she felt in that moment was excitement.

It was time to take the plunge.

She eased over the edge of the building, testing the weight and pull of the ropes.

Back up, they told her.

Back up more.

A little more.

More still.

Back up just a little more.

Eventually, there was nothing but air beneath Gronstal; her toes just touched the building to keep her balanced.

It didn’t take long to get down the side of the building once she got started.

“I thought it was kinda fun,” she said.

And gathered on the ground below, more than a dozen of her family members, down to young great-grandchildren, clapped and cheered.

“I thought it was so neat, those young kids seeing their grandma, who can do everything and is willing to do things,” Bruner said.

Gronstal was the oldest of almost 100 people who rappelled that day as part of the fundraiser.

And she did it in a Wonder Woman costume — although she hadn’t been sure about that at first.

She wondered, wasn’t it enough of a novelty that an 88-year-old woman was rappelling down the side of a building?

But when she leaned over the edge of the building, the feel of her cape flying out behind her won her over.

Several others opted for costumes as well. While she was there, Gronstal ran into Superman.

Gronstal hasn’t rappelled before, but she’s not one to say no to an adventure. During a trip to Dubai last year, she went to the top of the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa — almost 3,000 feet and more than 160 stories tall, rode a camel so tall that she tumbled a bit climbing off even when it went down onto its knees, and went for a wild ride in a Jeep in the desert.

“Like the young kids do here with Motocross, we were flying over sand dunes,” she said. “It was a wild, crazy ride, but it was fun.

“I guess I’m kinda crazy — I don’t get too scared.”

Her family will be telling the story for years to come.

“I still can’t believe she did it,” Bruner laughed days later.

But, on the other hand, she said, it’s not so difficult to believe.

“If she makes up her mind to do something, she just does it,” Bruner said. “She’s not limited by thinking she can’t do something. My mother has always amazed me in what she does, and this was just an another adventure for her.

“I don’t know what she’ll do next. It’s hard to predict.”

Gronstal’s stats: 88 years old. 11 kids. 21 grandkids. 10 great-grandkids.

One time rappelling.

So far.