Pelham mayor jumping out of plane for charityPublished 10:59am Tuesday, September 17, 2013
By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor
It didn’t take Pelham Mayor Gary Waters long to agree to hurl himself out of a flying airplane when he heard what the stunt was raising money for.
“I was surprised when he said yes. But knowing what I know about him, I’m not surprised at the same time,” Pelham police officer Dustin Chandler said with a laugh. “He was so gung-ho about it that he went to Skydivealabama.com that night and signed up to jump.”
For the past several weeks, Chandler has been working to organize the skydiving event to help raise money for the International Foundation for CDKL5 Research. Chandler’s daughter, 2-year-old Carly, is one of only about 600 people worldwide diagnosed with CDKL5, a rare neurological disorder which brings symptoms such as frequent seizures, severe gastrointestinal disorders and visual impairments.
“Donations are good, but we are really trying to bring awareness to CDKL5,” Chandler said. “When you’ve got something that rare, you’ve got to make people aware of it before you can really start fundraising.”
Waters said he was not surprised to see Chandler create a skydiving outing as a fundraiser.
“Dustin is pretty extreme, so I wouldn’t expect him to come up with anything less than a skydiving trip,” Waters said. “He is trying to do something bold, and I think he has succeeded.”
On Oct. 12, Chandler, Waters and about 20 others will travel to the Cullman Regional Airport to make the jump. Chandler said he is looking for each jumper to raise about $500 to donate to the International Foundation for CDKL5 Research.
Those not interested in parachuting from an airplane can drop off donations to Pelham mayor’s assistant Paula Holly at Pelham City Hall over the next few weeks. Checks should be made out to IFCR, Chandler said.
Those interested in signing up for the event can also visit Pelham City Hall, Chandler said.
Waters said the city’s business community has already made several donations to the organization.
“It’s so rare that research hasn’t really begun on it,” Waters said of CDKL5. “We are just trying to help.”