Skydiving for breast cancer research

Michelle Gallardo Image
Sunday, June 8, 2014
Skydiving for breast cancer research
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Skydiving is a way to give back during Saturday's Operation Pink Sky.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- There truly is no other way to describe it. Launching yourself out of a plane at 13,000 feet, free-falling at 125 per hour. It might seem counter-intuitive for some. Ok, for most. but for ABC7 Eyewitness News reporter Michelle Gallardo and so many others doing the exact same thing Saturday, it was an opportunity not just to experience the thrill of a lifetime.

"Everybody from a kid on up wants to learn how to fly and this is actually flying," said skydiver Scott Leech.

It was also a way to give back during Saturday's Operation Pink Sky.

"We're raising money for breast cancer research and cure," said skydive instructor Mike Wood. "We have a really neat venue here and a real neat way to get people involved in the sport and throwing people out of perfectly good airplanes to raise money is a lot of fun."

There were pink boas, pink bras, pink cupcakes, even pink parachutes. This is the sixth year that Rochelle's Chicagoland Skydiving Center has hosted the fundraiser, where supporting the fight against breast cancer is near and dear to the hearts of those who work here.

"I lost my grandmother three years ago, she had stage four breast cancers and my mom is fighting it right now," said parachute packer Dereck Dittman.

For those who chose to take that leap of faith, there were nerves, certainly. For a while there it got a bit quiet on the plane ride up, but there was also laughter and camaraderie, and that shared bond of having done something truly special.

"Skydiving is on my bucket list," said first-time skydiver Tracee Douse. "It happens to be on June 7, which is my birthday and I can actually help fund a cause, which is breast cancer awareness, so I thought three things in one."

Cancer-free since 2007, for survivor Deborah Johns it's all about awareness and education.

"I had done mammograms for ten years and I turned 50 and I asked my doctor to do an MRI baseline because I had a bad family history and we found three invasive tumors," she said.

All the money raised goes to fund research at Northwestern University and the National Breast Cancer Foundation.

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