Sole City Shoes staff skydiving for Schizophrenia Society
It's going to be a birthday celebration that she won't ever forget.
Shirley Lohner will be celebrating her 64th birthday this weekend when she and a few of her co-workers from Sole City Shoes in Camrose, including owners Daryl and Leta Shillington, jump out of an airplane 10,000 feet above the earth.
"My birthday is June 5 and the jump is scheduled for June 8," said Shirley.
The jump has been arranged by the Schizophrenia Society of Alberta to raise money for its six branches and the programs they provide to those living with schizophrenia, their family members and caregivers.
Each of the jumpers participating have been asked to raise a minimum of $500.
Daryl and Leta approached Lohner about the skydiving adventure after seeing an advertisement for the Thrill Seekers Challenge in the Camrose Interagency newsletter.
"We knew skydiving was on her bucket list of things to do and it was something we had toyed around with over the years, so we suggested that maybe the three of us do it," said Daryl. "The suggestion kind of snowballed and as a result there are five of us who have made the commitment."
The jumpers will receive a 20 to 40-minute briefing prior to the jump, after which they and their tandem master will travel to the set altitude. Attached to another experienced skydiver, they will freefall for 60 seconds, travelling at a speed of 200 kph.
"They have had people do this who are as old as 85," said Daryl. "They say the ones who cry are the football players. As for myself, I am just trying to block it out right now."
The reactions that Shirley and the Shillingtons have received from friends when they tell them what they intend to do have ranged from caution to great encouragement.
"A lot of them laugh and say good luck but there are quite a few as well that say that skydiving is something they would one day like to try," said Daryl.
One thing both Shirley and Daryl agree on is the fact that they are in a win-win situation.
"We are doing something we have wanted to do for a long time and we are helping an organization that needs help," said Shirley. "It is always great to be able to pull together when assistance is needed."
The trip to Westlock will kick off a busy weekend for Shirley, who is also scheduled to ride with a team of friends in the MS society's bike tour the next day for the 10th straight year.
"My brother has MS and we ride to support him," she said.
Shirley hasn't decided what she wants to do for her next great adventure, but thinks it might have something to do with training with weights.
"My daughters are into bodybuilding, so I just might try that," she said. "We have a grandson who has Muscular Dystrophy, so it would be nice to be able to help lift him if I got my muscles working."
The Schizophrenia Society of Alberta provides information and support to people affected by schizophrenia, reduces stigma and discrimination due to schizophrenia, increases public awareness and understanding of schizophrenia, provides employment opportunities to people with schizophrenia, advocates for improved public policy and public services, and promotes research into the causes of and medical treatment for schizophrenia. The Camrose office is located on the second floor of the Professional Centre at the corner of 51 Street and 50 Avenue.