Skydiving event brings awareness to CDKL5

Dustin Chandler, left, stands next to Pelham Mayor Gary Waters at last year's Skydive for CDKL5 event. (Contributed)

Dustin Chandler, left, stands next to Pelham Mayor Gary Waters at last year’s Skydive for CDKL5 event. (Contributed)

By MOLLY DAVIDSON / Staff Writer

PELHAM—What would make you jump out of a plane? For Pelham Police Officer Dustin Chandler, it’s raising awareness for CDKL5. On September 27, Chandler will make the 14,000-foot jump during the second annual Skydive for CDKL5 fundraising event.

“(I wanted) to bring maximum awareness to CDKL5, (and) I was trying to think of something no one had done before,” Chandler said of the choice to skydive. “Everyone had so much fun last year.”

Held at Skydive Alabama in Cullman, the event seeks to raise money and awareness for CDKL5, a rare genetic disorder that can cause as many as 10 seizures a day in children. According to the International Foundation for CDKL5 Research, many children with CDKL5 “cannot walk, talk or feed themselves,” and there is currently no cure.

“It’s all about these children that suffer, and these children with CDKL5 suffer every day,” Chandler said, and he knows first hand the toll CDKL5 takes on a child and a family, his daughter Carly suffers from the rare condition.

While last year’s Skydive for CDKL5 event was a success, Chandler said this year will be even bigger. Numerous public figures will make the 14,000-foot jump, including Republican Congressional nominee Gary Palmer, Alabama Board of Education member Mary Scott Hunter, Pelham Mayor Gary Waters and, if $50,000 is raised, radio personality Matt Murphy has promised to jump.

“Its pretty big for us, as far as awareness,” Chandler said of the public figures participating in this year’s Skydive for CDKL5. “It says a lot about them that they’re willing to do that for these kids.”

In addition, five families of children with CDKL5 are traveling as far as Arizona, Wisconsin, Connecticut and California for the event, Chandler said.

Anyone is welcome to join Chandler, Palmer, Hunter and Waters and jump out of a plane on Sept. 27 at Skydive Alabama. It costs $199 per jump, and Skydive Alabama has agreed to donate a portion of the proceeds to the International Foundation for CDKL5 Research.

“We’re a grassroots thing,” Chandler said of the IFCR. “The money goes right to research.”

Chandler also encouraged anyone interested in participating or donating to the Skydive for CDKL5 event to visit his website for more information on the event and information about CDKL5, Know5.org.