How Skydiving Changed My Life - Larry Wiezorek

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by Larry Wiezorek | A-61324 | Carbondale, Kansas

I was nearing 50 years old and wondered, “What has life got in store for me? I have enjoyed life; I have enjoyed family and friends. My children are grown and gone. What’s left?” I rode bulls for the first 10 to 15 years of my adult life (I even reached a professional level) and walked the high steel as an ironworker, yet I searched my soul and realized that I had never reached my ultimate dream. But what was my ultimate dream?

It did not take me long to realize my fate. After a coworker died from a fall on the job, I realized that life is indeed short. He was 25. I had to identify the body, and as I did, I thought, “This man was 25 years old and never enjoyed the pleasures that life has to offer.” Then I asked myself, “Have I?” At that moment, I decided to find whatever it was I was looking for.

I had always dreamed of going skydiving, so I called a local drop done, Skydive Kansas in Osage City, and they invited me down. After going through the instruction, I was handed a questionnaire that asked my weight, height and religious preference. (OK, I just threw that last part in there.) It asked me if I was ready to take the ultimate challenge. I went on to read what the ultimate challenge was: “You may be injured, you may get hurt... yadda, yadda,” and then the big bomb, “You may even lose your life.” Now that got my attention!

I signed the waiver (scared to death) and made the sacrifice. It is a choice I have never regretted. I have met so many people along the way, and they received me as an equal and not an outsider. The friends that I met (of many different backgrounds and ethnicities) were not only helpful, but they were interested in me, my goals and my ambitions. I went through the student phase of the program, and with every jump came more enthusiasm from my newfound friends. I was on a roll.

Then it all started to unwind. First, my sister passed unexpectedly. Three months later, my brother-in-law passed. My drop zone family was there with me the whole way. And then, when things were looking up, my whole world crashed around me: My mother passed away on June 26, 2011. I was six jumps away from my A license.

I went to the drop zone on July 4 to make a currency jump and to thank the folks at the DZ for sending flowers, and I was floored by what happened next: When I went to the manifest desk and tried to pay for my upcoming jump, drop zone owner Jen Sharp said, “Put your billfold away. Today is on us!” When I turned around, there were a half a dozen skydivers standing there with their thumbs in the air as if to say, “Everything’s gonna be OK!” I knew at that point I had found the family that I had recently lost.

With the encouragement of my newfound brothers and sisters, I went on to make six jumps that day. It was Independence Day (how fitting!) and a day I will never forget. Their encouragement and enthusiasm was overwhelming. That day, I realized that this sport I had chosen was much more than a sport; it was a way of life, a new beginning, a fresh start.

How has skydiving changed my life? Not only have I found what I was looking for, but I have found a whole new family, a family that I can count on as an individual and as a “newbie.” I have since purchased a new rig, and I hope to make many more memories with my new family.

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Fri, 01/11/2013 - 09:28

Very inspiring story. It almost made me cry. We all have different stories to tell but glad that yours is a happy one. I'm sorry for the passing of some of your family members but at least you found comfort in knowing that you have a life and family in this sport that you love. Some people never find that happiness in their life. Come to think of it, you are so lucky.

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