Roof sitter nears end of week-long fund raiser

Published 3:42 pm Friday, September 12, 2003

By By BEN RAYMOND LODE / Niles Daily Star
NILES -- After almost a week on the roof of the Niles Inn and Conference Center, Cheri Pitcher of Niles is still doing all right.
But, she is looking forward to coming down.
Her week-long roof-stay, which comes to an end on Sunday, is part of an effort to raise money for African children who are orphans as a result of AIDS.
The campaign, which is called "Up in the Air for Kids" and takes place in nine different states in the country, also hopes to raise awareness about those children's situation.
Pitcher, who is a registered nurse at the Veterans Administration Clinic in South Bend, Ind., has spent much of the last week in that chair, waving to people who have driven by the hotel, located on South 11th Street in Niles.
Even though her week has been spent on top a roof, she's had a number of visitors to her locale.
Pitcher has enjoyed the many people who have taken time to honk their horns in support of her effort as they have driven by the hotel.
Pitcher said the fund raising campaign had a slow start because the phone lines set up to receive donations were down the first two days.
People, however, have stopped by and donated money in person, she said.
Being in a new environment initially made it hard for Pitcher to get a good night's sleep. The first two nights she only slept for three hours.
Pitcher, however, said she has gotten more used to the sound of cars and is getting more sleep now.
Being on a roof with the sun baking down, Pitcher said she is usually pretty filthy by the end of the day.
That's why she has saved the daily shower she is allowed until the evening, just before she goes to bed.
She doesn't hide the fact that it has been a challenge for her to be on the roof for so long, especially since the phone lines have been more quiet than she had expected. "The biggest challenge has been to just sit up there and trying to figure out what to do," she said.
But Pitcher never expected her roof-adventure to be easy. "When you do something, there's always a challenge from some angle," she said.
Although her family has visited her regularly, she misses being able to talk to them on a more regular basis, and she misses her own bed.
Only a few more days now, and she won't have to miss them anymore.
The Niles Inn and Conference Center parking lot will be the venue for a "Jumpathon" today. It goes from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and is part of Pitcher's fund raising effort. A dunk tank and other fun activities will be available for the children on the parking lot on Sunday from 1 to 6 p.m.
To make a donation, call 574-232-KIDS.