Handout/Pacific Park on The Santa Monica Pier
Veteran LAPD detective Gus Martinez has boarded the Ferris wheel at California's Santa Monica Pier, and is now attempting to break a Guinness World Record by riding on a Ferris wheel for 25 hours straight - even though he is afraid if heights.
"I cannot deal with heights - absolutely not - but as long as I don't look down I will be fine, I just look at the view," he said.
Martinez, who is attempting the feat to help raise money for athletic programs for persons with disabilities, has been heavily involved with The Special Olympics for thirteen years as a volunteer coach.
"I am trying to do this for the organization and to put the word out there to recognize people with disabilities," he says. "There is nothing but goodness in them and we need to do whatever is in our means to help them."
His son Jason, who is a Special Olympics swimmer with Down syndrome, and Martinez's wife, think he may be up for a challenge.
"They think I am crazy but they are supportive of it because it is for a great cause," he says.
Sponsors Pacific Park and The Special Olympics felt the detective was a perfect fit for the challenge and approached him.
"It took me all of three minutes to say yes," Martinez says. "The Southern California Special Olympics Law Enforcement Torch Run kicked off this morning when I began this ride. The torch is mounted to my gondola and tomorrow when the ride ends someone from my squad will run torch up the pier to the Santa Monica police department."
Martinez explains the torch will then be carried to several polices stations for the next 10 days until it ultimately reaches Cal State Long Beach for the summer games on June 11-12.
In order for Martinez to beat the existing record of 24 hours and 30 minutes set in Dublin last October, he has to follow a few rules. The most important rule calls for disqualification if he falls asleep. He also must take a five minute break every hour. Should Martinez pass on the break, the five minutes will be carried over to take a longer break.
Martinez's gondola on the Ferris wheel is by no means ordinary. Outfitted with solar panels, he has a television and electrical outlets that allow him to use his laptop and phone.
"I am sitting in a five star gondola, the organizers added special padding for comfort," he says. "I am doing well - you would be amazed the Ferris wheel is state of the art and is such a smooth ride."
Martinez was given a basket of treats earlier in the day by event organizers to help stave off hunger or sleep during the night, and he's also prepared for the drop in temperature when the sun goes down.
"They gave me a nice bucket of power drinks and protein bars but I can also eat during a break," he said. "I brought warm clothing, a blanket and will just stay bundled up. It's supposed to be a little warmer than usual, so it shouldn't be that uncomfortable."
But Martinez says he isn't concerned with comfort, but for people with disabilities.
The public is welcomed to join Martinez on the gondola for $5 a ride from 8 p.m. to midnight. All proceeds will go to The Special Olympics. If you can't make it, he invites you to log on to pacpark.com where you can view a live shot of his webcam that is attached to the gondola.
- Sports & Recreation
- Santa Monica Pier
- Special Olympics