The only way is down for these daredevils

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

The only way is down for these daredevils thumbnailFour of the 11 brave people who will launch themselves out of a plane in a fundraising skydive for Autism NI. Pictured are Olivia Patterson, Sharon O’Reilly, Jordan Wright and Courtney Moore. Photograph: Anna Mathers. 10121am

SHARON O'Reilly has never been on a plane and doesn't hold a passport.
So the last thing you'd imagine she'd be planning is to jump out of a plane.
But that is exactly what former Rathfriland woman Sharon is doing - all in the name of charity.
Sharon, who now lives on the Castlewellan Road, Banbridge, is looking forward to her daring skydive but first had to overcome a disappointing encounter.
“Last year I decided to do a tandem skydive for charity but after contacting Moonjumpers International Sky Centre, I found out that to be eligible to complete a skydive I would have to lose weight as there is a weight restriction," said Sharon.
At this point, she decided that the weight restriction was not going to beat her.
“This is when I decided to join Training for Warriors gym in Banbridge. 
“Everyone in the gym thought I was absolutely mad to do a skydive for one simple reason - I have never been on an aeroplane in my life and don't even own a passport.
“But I was determined not only to lose the weight but to complete the jump and to try and raise as much money as I possibly could for my chosen charity, Autism NI."
Sharon's enthusiasm soon filtered through to other gym-goers.
“After seeing my determination the others in the gym decided they would show support and join me in the skydive, so we now have 12 members who are completing a skydive for charity."
Sharon's daughter Courtney, who works in Cut Both Ways in Rathfriland, will also take part in the skydive.
Six people will be jumping from the skies on 29 April while another six will be skydiving on 6 May.
Sharon chose Autism NI as the benefactor to her efforts as her youngest daughter is currently being assessed for Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD).
“I know first-hand the difficulty local families face. Autism NI's mission is to support parents and individuals with an autistic spectrum disorder and to raise awareness of autism. 
“I feel that any help we can give them to raise awareness can only be of benefit to the families having to cope with ASD on a daily basis. 
“Another reason for choosing Autism NI is that they are a local charity and any money we raise will stay right here in Northern Ireland and help local families."
In order to raise money for the charity they are undertaking a number of fundraising ideas.
“To complete the skydive we have a minimum amount of £380 each to raise via sponsorships. However the price of the skydive comes out of this sponsorship so the charity will only receive £160 of the money raised. So my fellow skydivers and I decided we needed to come up with other fundraising ideas try and raise even more money for the charity. 
“We have organised a Wild West-themed costume party at the Bannville House Hotel for 1 April."
Anyone who is free on 1 April is welcome to attend the event in The Bannville House Hotel in Banbridge. Tickets can be purchased from Training for Warriors on Townsend Street, Banbridge.


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