A great grandmother celebrated her 90th birthday by falling more than 10,000 feet to earth in her first ever skydive – and took along her 95-year-old friend. Etta Hellyer wanted to mark her ninth decade with “something special” so her friend Henry Martens, 95, suggested they take part in a charity skydive together.
Etta, a retired psychiatric nurse, said her family thought she had “gone crazy” when she suggested taking part in the dive, which would see her fall to the earth at 125mph. But the courageous nonagenarian was determined to boost her adrenaline and raise funds for Tabor Village, a senior living home which once cared for her mother Anna.
Etta even managed make the dive a family affair, coaxing four generations of her own family into the nail-biting challenge including her son Darryl Dueck, 60, and his wife Sandra Irving, 60, as well as her grandchildren and great grandchildren.
Mother-of-six Etta said taking part in the event with Skydive Vancouver on June 8 was “amazing” and something everyone should consider at least once in their lives.
Etta, of Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada said:
“I started thinking about doing this skydive about a year ago. My family thought I was crazy. They were trying to talk me out of it but I had already made up my mind. I have never been an adrenaline junkie, not even close! But I felt like doing something special for my 90th birthday. There wasn’t much preparation involved in this.
“We had about an hour of training before the dive where we learned different maneuvers. I wasn’t nervous at all. Henry went first. I was told we would be doing a somersault in the sky but I didn’t realize it would be so early on in the dive. It was a beautiful experience. We free fell for 4,000 foot, it was amazing. I don’t know why but I didn’t feel nervous. The best thing about the dive was that it was a family affair. Four generations of my family jumped. My son Darryl and his wife Sandra, my grandchildren Jenna and Kaitlyn and even my great grandchildren Chase, Colby and Cassandra.”
The great-granny, who lives independently, said she feels privileged to have raised funds for Tabor Village, to help build a new complex care center at the facility. “I’m so glad I raised funds for Tabor Village. It is very close to my heart because they cared for my mom in her later years so well and it was great that this skydive helped to raise funds. I live independently now, but you never know what might happen in the future.”
Etta said her late husband, Bill Hellyer, who died in 2012, would not have encouraged her risky endeavor. “He would not have agreed with me doing this,” Etta joked. “He was not a risk taker at all. But I’ve already booked my next skydive. It’s how I will mark my 95th birthday.”