Leap of faith for cancer jumpers
Cancer patient Shannon Ryan understands fear but being on an air force Hercules strapped to a bloke about to leap out puts fear in a whole new light.
But the 22-year-old says Jump Start 2008 was one of the best experiences of a life lived with cancer.
Jump Start puts youngsters in difficult circumstances with experienced tandem parachutists. Air force volunteers load them into a Herc at Whenuapai and then it’s a huge leap of faith.
Shannon says jumping was a daunting prospect for 25 CanTeeners last year.
“Walking out to the aircraft made you realise what you were about to do.
“You were going to fly to 10,000 feet and jump out of a perfectly good aircraft.”
With the plane at jump height the rear ramp is lowered and a view of Auckland and the surrounding islands unfolds.
“At that height you can almost see the curve of the earth and I will never forget waddling towards the end of the ramp before we jumped.
“After rotating a few times we steadied and after what seemed like an age falling, but was only 30 seconds, the parachute opened, much to my relief,” Shannon says.
“The feeling of falling and then gliding back to earth can’t be described.
“The adrenaline we CanTeeners experienced kept us up well into the night.”
This year’s event has been scheduled for March 14 and young cancer sufferers will again get the chance to test their faith in others.
The idea is that the “experience of being alive transforms”.
Jumpers face new fears, find support and identity by placing their trust in others, experience the elation of skydiving, gain confidence from accomplishing a goal, and a sense of belonging from being part of Jump Start.
The event asks skydivers to raise money to sponsor a teenager.
The tandem masters, camera flyers and air force personnel all donate their time and resources.
Skydiving enthusiast Lars Bojsen-Moller says Jump Start generates growth and confidence in young people.
“Our children are the most important element in our future and Jump Start is going to be an amazing event that will change the lives of all involved.”
To support it visit www. jumpstart.org.nz.
You can also make a credit card donation through www. fundraiseonline.co.nz.Select the make a donation button. It’s secure and an emailed receipt will be issued.
Cheques can also be can be made out to Jump Start, and sent to Jump Start, PO Box 84 354, Westgate 0657, Waitakere.
Into the blue, above: Jump Start participants put their faith in tandem masters who volunteered their time. Here we go, right: Jump Start challenges young cancer sufferers to have faith in others.