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A leap of faith

POSTED October 2, 2009 11:09 p.m.
If you are reading this on Saturday morning before 8 a.m. and plan to head north on Highway 99 towards Sacramento, make sure to look up and wave as you pass Acampo. I just might be able to see your friendly gesture as I rapidly descend to the earth from 13,000 feet in the air.
I, along with about 20 other Kiwanians from around the state,  will be skydiving today as part of a fundraiser for the Kiwanis Family House at the UC Davis Medical Center.
‘Skydiving fundraiser,’ you say, ‘that’s crazy!’ Yes, you are probably right. But I am stuck with following through with the giant step out of the plane because the skydiving fundraiser was my idea to begin with.
That was definitely one idea I should have kept to myself. But, no, I shared it with my fellow Kiwanis Club of Turlock members and a few short months later, I am faced with one of the most terrifying things I’ve ever done voluntarily.
My strategy, so far, has been to not think about the jump. But on Friday I couldn’t help but face the fact that the next day may be my last. That may be a little dramatic seeing as how there were only 64 skydiving fatalities in 2008 (according to dropzone.com) and 34,017 fatal motor vehicle crashes in the same year (according to the Fatality Analysis Reporting System Encyclopedia).
Some people, including a few of my fellow Kiwanians, think jumping out of a perfectly good airplane for fun, or fundraiser, is ridiculous. They believe life is dangerous enough without testing the limits of safety.
I respectfully disagree.
One of my childhood friends is laying in a hospital bed right now facing the fact that he may never be able to walk again. On Tuesday, he was cutting down a tree and it fell the wrong way, right on top of him, crushing his spine. After the initial shock and grief for my friend and his family abated, I felt like holding on as tight as I could to my health and wellbeing and canceling the skydiving trip.
But then I thought about the life my friend has led so far. He has been skydiving multiple times, as well as mountain climbing and parasailing. He takes his dune buggy out as often as he can and is currently building an ultra-light airplane.
None of these “dangerous” activities were the cause of his injury. My friend was doing his job — a job he has done many times in the past — when a freak accident occurred. If my friend had played it safe and never experienced the thrill of flying through the air with nothing but a parachute and a smile, he would still be in that hospital bed just without a few awesome memories.
There are people who live their lives being careful. They never drive over the speed limit and always use the crosswalk. They don’t attend concerts or monster truck rallies because they might get caught up in a riot. And they certainly would never skydive, bungee jump or climb a mountain. Then one day they walk out to their car and a runaway bus flattens them. This scenario may seem a little over the top, but my point is you only have one life to live, so live it to the fullest.
So on Saturday morning I will take a deep breath and let go of my fear; and as I am falling I will be thinking of my friend and praying that he will be beside me at my next jump.
To contact Kristina Hacker, e-mail khacker@turlockjournal.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2004.

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