Continuing trend of rappelling down buildings, St. John’s mascot goes down 470 ft. for cancer research


First it was Rutgers coach Mike Rice rappelling down a building to raise money for cancer, and now it’s St. John’s mascot Johnny Thunderbird, the oversized red hawk, who dropped 470 feet for the cause.

The Thunderbird scaled down the side of the Harborside Financial Plaza building in Jersey City, N.J., alongside Salvatore J. Cassano, commissioner of the New York Fire Department, NBC Today Show member Sara Haines, television reporter Tina Cervasio, and radio personality Greg T.

“It was an honor and a privilege to rappel in support of the American Cancer Society’s continuing battle against this terrible disease,” “said” Johnny in a statement. “Even though safety regulations wouldn’t allow me to fly, I still feel like I added some thunder to such an awesome event.”

Supporting cancer research is a topic that closely affects the St. John’s program, as head coach Steve Lavin missed the majority of the 2011-12 season recovering from successful prostate cancer surgery.

He will be back on the sidelines for the 2012-13 season with another young Red Storm team that is looking to improve on a 13-19 record from a year ago.

Lavin brings in another strong recruiting class, led by post-grad JaKarr Sampson of Brewster Academy (N.H.), as well as shot-blocker Chris Obekpa and Texas A&M transfer Jamal Branch, who will be eligible in December.

St. John’s opens its season on Nov. 13 against Detroit.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_