My friend Kyle and I had this dream of traveling the world skydiving. Our only problem was we had never been skydiving. At that point in 2019 we decided AFF was our route and we booked our ground school.
Then our big day came. There was 4 AFF students that day. All 4 of us were Cat A jumps. The first student had a radio that failed and he ended up in a tree roughly half a mile from the DZ. The second student took a long time climbing out, and also did not pull on time. The instructor that pulled for him then was not able to make it back and he landed off. Next was my friend Kyle.
Kyle did everything perfect until his landing. He was slightly off target, flared high, and landed in a bean field. He landed just over a little hill just out of sight. When I seen he didn't get up jumping for joy, I could tell something was wrong. His instructors were walking back assuming everything was fine. However, at this moment I told his dad something didn't feel right and I took off running towards where he had landed. When I got there his ankle was broke and he needed help. When the ambulance arrived it couldn't drive into the bean field due to the ruts of the field. I helped carry him and his stretcher out of the field to the waiting ambulance. At this point the instructors looked at me and asked if I still wanted to go up.
I hesitated and asked for a few minutes to think it over. The DZO then came out and said that today had bad juju and I probably shouldn't go up, but they would still take me if I wanted. It was then I decided I had to go up and face my fears. I geared up, and we loaded up into a C182 and took off on a grass runway. I thought every skydive was out of a small C182 with no seats on a grass runway at this point. My jump went perfect and I loved every second of it.
However, after this first jump me and Kyle couldn't continue our dream together due to his ankle. Fast forward two years to 2021 and my friend Kyle overdosed and died. I didn't mention before but I struggled for years and years with addiction. Kyle was the man who convinced me a few years before that there was another way to live without drugs and alcohol. After he relapsed and died, I realized that our dream would never become a reality unless I did it in his memory.
After his funeral, I went to the dropzone every day I could to get my skydiving license. Since Kyle's death, I've obtained my A license. So far I've been able to buy a helmet, jumpsuit, and an altimeter. Next I'll have to save for an audible, and a complete rig. As of today I've had 54 skydives out of 11 dropzones in 7 states across 2 countries. I would like to think that Kyle would be proud that I'm keeping our dream alive.
Thanks to Kyle's help on May 9th this year (2022) I will celebrate 5 years drug and alcohol free. If anyone reading this is struggling with addiction or knows someone who is, please don't give up. If you don't have anyone to talk to about it, you can call me directly (513)816-2286. Please reach out for help. Keep fighting, don't give up, keep fighting, don't give up, keep fighting....see you at the finish line. Blue skies my friends.
Along with Matt providing his phone number for support, I figured it might also be helpful or beneficial to anyone reading this to know about the Skydivers Supporting Sobriety Facebook Group. Check it out!