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Courage to take the Leap

SOBER SKYDIVE.jpg

A bucket list. Many of us have them, but how many of us really get to check off our to-do-before-I-dies?

For the people who participated in a Father's Day weekend skydiving event, it would've been easy to leave the box unchecked, the dream unfulfilled. Instead, they stepped onto the wing and took the leap.

Falling from 10,000 feet in the air is almost indescribable. Almost:

"Knees weak, heart pounding, emotions I've never felt before."

"You just go and you just jump for it you have to push yourself out of the plane."

"Just serene, peaceful feeling like nothing can touch you."

It's also how you could describe another type of getting high - a feeling many of these jumpers knew, at one time or another, as a way of life.

Robin Olmstead says, "I know it's a goal I never would've achieved in the past with the way I was living."

This skydive weekend is actually part of a celebration of second chances that start at some of life's lowest points.

It started during a recovery program at Changepoint. Many of those in the program said skydiving was one of their top bucket list items.

To go from rock bottom - to higher than any drink or drug could take them.

"This is our 7th year of Sober Skydive," Changepoint owner Dennis Gray says.

It's since exploded in popularity. Not even who jumps is part of Changepoint; the event is open to anyone willing to pay for the experience.

"There's no reason to wait until you're 80 to do stuff on your bucket list - might as well do it now," Gray laughs.

Changepoint does offer skydiving certificates for those doing well in their program, but Dennis says the act of planning and saving money to take the jump reflects the type of positive actions they encourage in recovery.

Robin graduated a Changepoint program last year. She's now surrounded by family in her sober life and in her first skydive.

"When I was coming down through the air, that was the first thing I looked for was my family." Her family was watching in admiration, phones poised for the moment she landed.

Family is a big part of the weekend event.

"We've had three generations jump in one day. These are families with severe alcohol problems and then one person has influenced the other and influenced the other and pretty soon you have a sober family," Dennis Gray says.

Just seven months after getting out of jail and coming to Changepoint, Myranda Roberts celebrated her sobriety by keeping a promise she made to herself and her brother.

"I've wanted to skydive my entire life. My brother was deployed to Afghanistan and he actually jumped out of planes on a regular basis so that was kind of our thing, we always wanted to go skydiving together," Myranda says. "We never got the chance to. He was killed over in Afghanistan in 2012...August 2012."

While the nerves built as the plane climbed, Myranda says the thought struck her that her brother was with her. The nerves faded, and she was able to let go and fly.

And while the next steps in her journey won't be as big as jumping 10,000 feet - "Just the feeling of accomplishment that comes from it is huge," - there's courage to take the next leap.

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