'Age is just a number': Elderly Abbotsford residents skydive for fundraiser
Published Sunday, June 9, 2019 3:06PM PDT
Henry Martens, 95, and Etta Hellyer, 90, plummetted thousands of feet from the sky Saturday afternoon for a good cause.
The pair has been collecting pledges in support of the Taber Village senior’s home capital campaign.
Marten’s late wife lived at the Abbotsford facility for two years and his mother was a resident years before that.
"I'm thrilled to skydive. I’m doing it because of Taber Home," said Marten.
It’s not the first time he’s taken this leap of faith. He pulled a similar stunt for his 90th birthday for a different charity.
"I am more than a daredevil -- I shouldn’t be here. There’ve six times where I could have been dead."
He said he had no hesitations about doing it again.
"If the parachute doesn’t open, I’ll say, 'Oh lord, here I come.'"
It was a first for his counterpart though, who appeared unshaken by the task ahead.
"I’m not at all nervous about it, but the media attention is more nerve-racking," said Hellyer.
She even attempted a more advanced manoeuvre.
"I got the somersault, that’s the only time I didn’t think we were going to make it."
More than 100 people filled the grass fields of Skydive Vancouver to cheer them on.
All proceeds from the event will go toward replacing the 60-year-old care home.
"We’re targeting $100,000 and it’s part of a $11-million campaign to build a brand new centre for living for seniors," said Dan Levitt of Tabor Village.
So far, $4.4 million has been raised. Staff members hope to get shovels in the ground in the next two years.
Low cloud and rainy weather delayed Saturday’s event for more than four hours, but Martens said it was worth the wait.
"I saw Vancouver Island, and the mountains, saw Abbotsford and the Fraser River – everything," he exclaimed.
When the sun finally came out, both divers took the plunge with their loved ones. Four generations could be seen floating across the Fraser Valley skyline.
Both families started the day as strangers, but Hellyer said they all walked away with a similar philosophy.
"You can do this at any age -- age is just a number."