Rolling Around the World for a Good Cause

A Des Peres man's "party stunt" is at the heart of an Internet effort to raise money for charity.

Andrew Tessier is on a roll.

He has rolled along the Great Wall of China, in front of a palace in Sweden, in the Sistine Chapel and through a honky-tonk in Nashville.

Now the 34-year-old Des Peres man is trying to use his trademark party move – a “barrel roll” -- to raise money for a good cause.

“I thought, why don’t we try to take this idea, as ridiculous as it sounds, and try to help an organization that needs help and give back to the community,” Tessier said.

So Tessier launched a website called Barrelrollman.com to share videos of his stunts around the world, promote group “roll offs” and sell merchandise to raise money for charity.

Since launching the site in 2010, he said he's raised about $2,500 for Nurses for Newborns, a nonprofit organization that sends nurses and supplies to at-risk mothers and babies.

In November he organized his first effort to set the world record for the number of people rolling down a hill. With a little publicity and word of mouth among friends, he said he got about 100 people to roll down Art Hill in Forest Park.

Not enough to beat the world record of 900, but enough to whet his appetite for more.

“If we can set that world record then we’ll really be able to push this over the top,” he said.

The idea for public barrel rolling began when Tessier was a teenager growing up in Warson Woods, attending rock concerts with his brothers.

“It was just to bring attention to ourselves,” he said. “We’d go to a concert and when the band would finish, they’d say ‘Thanks for coming. Good night.’

“So we’d always roll right in front of the stage and get the crowd going.”

It wasn’t always enough to bring the band back on stage, but it definitely brought Tessier and his brothers the attention they sought.

Soon Tessier and his brothers, Steve, 30, and Michael, 24, started filming themselves doing barrel rolls wherever they went, including Europe, Asia and Central America.

“We just thought it was fun to do these rolls wherever we went,” Tessier said.

At the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, their antics at a bar caught the attention of some French athletes.

“I did my rolls in front of the stage and the whole bar went crazy,” Tessier said. “The French biathlon team was there and they asked us what in God’s name are you doing?”

“We said, ‘We’re just rolling around the world trying to spread the joy and good times,’” Tessier said.

The team wanted to know whether the Tessiers had a website, because if they didn’t the athletes were going to take the idea and roll with it.

But Michael Tessier pointed at Andrew and said no way:  “This is the Barrel Roll Man.” And Barrelrollman.com was born.

Now Tessier, who works in the health care field, spends his free time thinking of new ways to promote Barrel Roll Man. His website and Facebook page link to videos of his rolls around the world. And he’s hoping to organize another group roll-off this summer to try again at the world record.

As long as it’s on grass or some other soft surface.

“It hurts to do this on concrete,” Tessier said. “And brick is awful.”


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