Skydive event raises more than $10,000 to combat rare disorder
Published 11:44 am Tuesday, October 15, 2013
By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor
For Pelham Mayor Gary Waters, the decision to jump out of an airplane for the second time on Oct. 12 wasn’t a hard decision.
“You are supposed to get a video of your jump when you get on the ground, but they told me ‘Your video didn’t take’ after my first jump,” Waters said. “They said they would give me my money back, but I didn’t want my money back.
“They said the only other way was for me to jump again, so I said ‘Let’s go,’” Waters said with a laugh.
Waters joined more than 20 others in jumping out of airplanes at the Cullman Regional Airport on Oct. 12 to raise money for the International Foundation for CDKL5 Research.
The event was organized by Pelham police officer Dustin Chandler, whose 2-year-old daughter, 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.
In addition to the more than 20 who went skydiving during the fundraiser, dozens more watched from the ground and participated in a motorcycle ride from Pelham’s Heart of Dixie Harley-Davidson dealership to the airport.
“We had such a great time. It was so well-received that they’ve talked me into making it an annual event,” Chandler said with a laugh on Oct. 15. “In just a short amount of time, we were able to raise $10,000.
“That totally took me by surprise,” Chandler said. “I think we accomplished our goal on both fronts – both the fundraising and raising awareness for the disease.”
While participants were taking turns skydiving, others at the event enjoyed a tailgate-like atmosphere catered by Pelham’s American Dawgs and Deli.
Waters admitted he was apprehensive the first time he jumped.
“I’ve dangled beneath almost every type of military aircraft, but I’ve never jumped out of one,” Waters said. “It feels like it takes forever to get up to altitude, but once that green light comes on, they clear out the aircraft in a matter of seconds.
“The second jump was a lot more enjoyable,” Waters said. “The first one was done out of a sense of obligation, but the second one was done more for fun.”