Shocked … overwhelmed … speechless! Those are some of the feelings I had on that incredible day – the day I went to a meeting, expecting to handle a routine accessibility question, but instead found out I would get the chance to cross an item off my bucket list.
It all started when HR put up a bulletin board and asked everyone to write or email things you had on your bucket list: I sent in a couple of mine. At the time, it seemed like a fun activity—nothing more—until the afternoon Kelly from HR emailed asking me to come down to help with an accessibility question. When I got to the office, there was no accessibility question—what could this mean?
With an obvious smile in her voice, Kelly noted that I had participated in the bucket list activity; meanwhile, I was still trying to figure out where all this was leading. She said that our president thought that my bucket list item was outstanding and that APH was going to pay to send me skydiving. We have a special Endowment Fund that made it possible, but that part really didn’t matter to me. All that mattered was that I was going to have the chance to do something I had wanted to do for decades.
It’s nearly impossible to describe all the emotions I felt at that moment, the surprise, the elation, so watch this video and experience it for yourself.
The Big Day
We traveled to Elizabethtown, Kentucky for my jump – It would be tandem, which meant I would be hooked to a veteran skydiver.
It was cloudy, and we were concerned that the skydive would get postponed, an absolute shame since friends and colleagues came to see me jump. Fortunately, the clouds broke enough for us to jump.
When we arrived, I had to sign a bunch of wavers, but that didn’t bother me. Friends and family—they were nervous. Even my guide dog, Jeremiah, seemed concerned. I did get a bit nervous as I put on the equipment, and I must say that the airplane ride was bumpier than I expected, but the nervousness quickly disappeared as we prepared to jump.
Once we reached ten thousand feet, I exited the plane by sliding out, and the descent began. Traveling 120 MPH through the air is exhilarating!
There’s Nothing Like It
The freefall lasted about 30-45 seconds; then I pulled the parachute chord, and we slowed down considerably. The rest of the time we spent doing flips and circles in the air until landing in gravel.
I got a video, and my wife bought me a T-shirt as a souvenir. It’s an experience I’ll always remember. Here’s a video someone from work took that shows many of the day’s important events.
I’ve already decided that on my next milestone birthday, I’ll do it again, only this time, I’ll jump from 17 thousand feet, the greatest height you can jump from.