How Skydiving Changed My Life

How Skydiving Changed My Life - Shawn Madsen

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by Shawn Madsen | C-33917 | Polson, Montana

The effects that skydiving has had on my life are probably a bit different than most. From the time I was a child, I have wanted to jump out of airplanes. Every year for the Fourth of July celebration in our small town in eastern Oregon, there would be skydivers who would land in the middle of the festivities throughout the day. It was from watching them that I began to dream about someday getting to do the same. In 1990, when I was 22 years old, at a hot-air balloon show in Colorado Springs, I made a beeline for some skydivers to inquire about the possibility of jumping. The next day, I found myself doing a static-line jump in Loveland, Colorado, and I’ve been jumping ever since. more »

How Skydiving Changed My Life - Adam Martin

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by Adam Martin | B-36896 | Gilbert, Arizona

Starting with the death of my grandfather in December of 2009, my life began to spiral out of control. Over the next two years, I allowed the events happening in and around my family to lead me into a very deep and dark place. After the divorce of my parents and the death of my grandmother, I really didn’t think life could get any worse. How wrong I was! On December 2, 2011, my father, whom I was living with, took his own life. more »

How Skydiving Changed My Life - Alisha Backus

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by Alisha Backus | D-32390 | Fern Park, Florida

When a person constantly witnesses emotional or physical abuse, it can take its toll. My parents went through a nasty divorce that took several years. Luckily, my mother is an amazing person who taught me compassion, which is hard to find these days. Through this time, she kept me grounded. more »

How Skydiving Changed My Life - Jason Christensen

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by Jason Christensen | A-61244 | Carver, Minnesota

With a simple “three, two, one,” I was out the door and the adrenaline in my veins rushed as quickly as the cool wind. I had bungee jumped off the Grand Canyon and record-high cliffs in Québec, and I had motorcycled for years, but none of those experiences came close to my first skydive. Most people said I was absolutely insane to actually want to jump out of a plane. They might be right, but they don’t know what they’re missing. more »

How Skydiving Changed My Life - Annie Curry

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by Annie Curry | A-65625 | Athens, Georgia

The first time I jumped out of a plane, it was a tandem and I was participating in a fundraiser called Jump, Fly, Be Different! for the nonprofit organization Extra Special People. My son has Down Syndrome and attends summer camp at ESP. The organization held the fundraiser to raise money to send kids with disabilities to camp. more »

How Skydiving Changed My Life - James Hilliard

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by James Hilliard | B-35434 | Lincoln, Nebraska

In 2007, at the age of 23, I moved to a new city to be closer to family and finish college. Before moving, I hadn't given much thought to how I would support myself in this new location. Pilot certificates filled my wallet, and I already had a couple years of experience working as a flight instructor. Therefore, I knew my best chances for finding work would be as a pilot. Internet searches led me to the local drop zone. more »

How Skydiving Changed My Life - Ali VanHoose

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by Ali VanHoose | B-37618 | Celebration, Florida

In 2003, I was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and depression with a side of anxiety. I got on meds, went to therapy regularly and tried to sort out my life. I came across an organization called SOAR (Speaking Out About Rape), founded by Kellie Greene. In 2005, I had the pleasure of meeting her at a weekend retreat in Orlando. It was then that I heard about Operation Freefall, an annual skydiving fundraiser hosted by SOAR. It involved raising money by jumping out of a plane. At the time, I took little pink pills to calm my nerves on flights. I always wanted to jump, dreamed of flying and desired to participate, but fear held me back for years. Seven years, to be exact. more »

How Skydiving Changed My Life - Gary Holden

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by Gary Holden | D-31444 | Cincinnati, Ohio

This adventure all started around my 60th birthday, in March 2009, while talking with my co-worker, Abby, who has the same birthday as I do (though I’m 30 years older). We were trying to come up with something special to do. I mentioned that I would like to jump out of an airplane before I got too old to do it. Abby said that she had always wanted to do it, too, and we made a pact: I would do it if she would. So in June, we made our first tandem skydives. I was hooked! Then we made two more, one in July and one in August. In September, we started the AFF program at Start Skydiving in Middletown, Ohio, but ran out of good weather before the end of the season and had to finish the following year. more »

How Skydiving Changed My Life - Alana Wilson

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by Alana Wilson | USPA #266048 | Minnesota City, Minnesota

I'm here to tell you that life begins after 40 … or should I say, “after skydiving”? I never knew how fulfilling or empowering skydiving would be for me until I went for my first tandem skydive. After raising my two daughters on my own and realizing I was truly going to have an empty nest, I decided it was time to go out and do the things I always wanted to do but didn’t because I had to think of my family first. more »

How Skydiving Changed My Life - Samantha Hopkins

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by Samantha Hopkins | B-36043 | Vernon, Connecticut

I waddled my way to the edge of the plane door with a strange man strapped to my back. I thought to myself, “What did I sign myself up for?” My tandem instructor screamed, “Out! In! Out!” and as quick as that, I was plummeting to the earth at 120 mph. I didn’t know that this moment would be the beginning of an unforgettable journey. more »