How Skydiving Changed My Life - Kate Wrigley
In November 2011, I started AFF at Skydive the Farm, which is now located in Cedartown, Georgia, and little did I know what a difference that decision was going to make in my life. It started with a rule I made for myself that summer: If it sounded fun, I would try it.
I had been living the life I was supposed to live, and I had an epiphany early in 2011 that it was not the life I wanted to live. So I left my relationship and apartment in D.C., quit my job and moved back to Georgia. I desperately wanted to discover what made me happy, but I had no idea what it would be. A friend wanted to make a tandem skydive for her 50th birthday, and I went with her, which is when I got the skydiving bug. I had planned to wait to start AFF until the spring of 2012, but the sky was calling me so loudly I drove out to the Farm the day after Thanksgiving. I completed ground school and made my first AFF jump that day. When I got down, I signed up for the A-license package.
My first couple of years in the sport were riddled with long layoffs due to minor injuries (some from skydiving and others because I am accident prone in general), as well as other health issues. I came close to walking away from it due to the frustration I was feeling before I had even fully explored the sport. Something inside me didn't like that idea, though, and I couldn’t fully accept never getting into the sky again.
Meanwhile in the summer of 2012, a good friend of mine asked if an 11-year-old child could skydive. A mutual friend of ours had a son with brain cancer and one of his wishes was to skydive. He had fought cancer from the time he was 7 years old. His doctors told him that there was nothing left they could do anymore and that he should enjoy the rest of his life.
After six weeks of relentless effort and a lot of help from experienced skydivers like S&TA Steve Hasemen and DZO Hans Paulsen, we succeeded in receiving a waiver to the Basic Safety Requirement that stipulates jumpers must be 18 or older so we could take Kenny in the air for a skydive. He loved it, jumped twice that day and spoke about skydiving for the rest of his life, which ended in March 2013.
An event was born from Kenny’s love of skydiving and his hope to eradicate childhood cancer: Kenny’s Charity Skydive. Since that time, we have raised around $25,000 from three fundraisers to help the cause. Vendors within the sport have been huge supporters and continually donate raffle prizes to help us raise money. Skydiving friends dive in to help too, and the energy around the event is awe-inspiring. This year was our most successful year to date, and we are already planning next year’s event at Skydive Georgia, which is also in Cedartown.
Skydiving has changed my life for the better in so many ways. I have been repeatedly overwhelmed by how big the hearts of skydivers can be. It has connected me to my best friend. Most of my friends are skydivers or closely involved with skydiving. It has shown me that you can have an incredibly diverse group of people come together and that the sky levels the playing field. That mindset has taken over my whole life. It has raised my confidence levels and self-esteem, and I found what makes me happy. Nothing makes me smile more than flying; whether it’s in the sky or the tunnel, I love it.
Last but not least, skydiving led me to what truly feeds my soul and provides more satisfaction than my day job ever will: fundraising. It’s given me the mental freedom to open my world and be ready to make a career change to something that is much more fulfilling overall while I do this fundraiser on the side. I hope to take my event to a national level and duplicate what we have done at Skydive the Farm and Skydive Georgia to other drop zones across the U.S.
by Kate Wrigley | A-65852 | Atlanta, Georgia