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Leap of faith

With her whole life in front of her, Cassandra Philippon, who graduated from New London High School this year, took a leap of faith – literally. She was asked by fellow church member, Andrea Saari, of Cornerstone Christian Church, to join a Jump for Jesus skydiving event.

This would be Cassandra’s first time ever in an airplane, not to mention jumping out of one.

Andrea’s step-dad, Pastor Dave Sielaff, had created the over the top event as a fundraiser. Monies raised would help pay some medical bills for those who needed assistance and it was also a challenge to his congregation to step out of their comfort zone.

Each participant in Jump for Jesus had to raise the jump fee of $190 and all other donations collected above that amount were compiled for the fundraiser. Cassandra was happy to raise $220 above her jump fee in her first attempt.

This year was the third year of the jump, and there were 32 jumpers. It was an all-day event held at the Shiocton Airport. Each participant had to be a minimum of 18 years old and weigh less than 200 pounds.

The new jumpers were strapped tandem to instructors. Cassandra’s instructor was known as “Bad Andy” and Andrea’s instructor’s nickname was “Punk”.

Andy helped Cassandra get through her first flight by explaining all he could about airplanes and what to expect. “He told me how your ears pop and that you have to swallow a lot, and also not to hang onto anything when it was time to jump,” said Cassandra.

The four jumpers were up in a small plane with their pilot.

“I wasn’t as nervous as I thought I’d be,” she said. “But once the door opened I got a little freaked out.” She said the temptation to look down as they were free falling was quickly stopped by the experienced instructor who told her to look up until the parachute was activated. This would allow her to breathe and not get dizzy.

“Once the shoot opened I could see ground underneath and look all around as we came through the clouds. There were clouds everywhere and it was really great.”

Cassandra said she would definitely be doing a jump again next year, and her brother will be old enough to go with her. “I have some friends who are interested in Jumping for Jesus now too, so it should be even more fun having them along.”

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