Greenville woman to skydive in cancer fundraiser By Liv Osby HEALTH WRITER firstname.lastname@example.org
A Greenville entrepreneur will team up with 150 women from across the nation next week in an attempt to break the current world skydiving record while raising $1 million for breast cancer research.
"I'm very excited about it," says Brenda Kramar, the 30-year-old president of Planet B Inc., a computer technology training company.
"I've always tried to be a supporter of fund-raising events for cancer research and its treatment," she says. "I've known many people who have had to fight this disease -- some successfully and some not."
Dubbed Jump for the Cause, the event was founded by Mallory Lewis, writer, skydiving enthusiast and daughter of puppeteer Shari Lewis, who died of breast cancer in 1998. The following year, Lewis and a group of 118 women, including Kramar, set the women's world record skydive, raising more than $300,000 for the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation.
This year, the jump is expected to raise $1 million for breast cancer research at the City of Hope Cancer Center in Los Angeles.
"These skydivers are risk-takers, but there are countless women who are at risk every day to breast cancer," Lewis said. "I know the dollars we raise will bring hope to many people around the world."
With Jump for the Cause, Kramar has found a way to marry her passion for skydiving with her advocacy for breast cancer research, which was kindled while she was a student at Wake Forest University. There, she came to know a family that was struggling with the disease and later, her aunt developed breast cancer, she said.
Born in California, Kramar grew up in Virginia. Six years ago, she was transferred to Greenville from her job in Raleigh, where she took up skydiving after a colleague shot down all her excuses in describing the thrill.
"As soon as my feet touched the ground, I knew I had to do it again," she says. "I maxed out my credit cards that weekend to do another jump."
With college loans and living expenses to pay, Kramar somehow scraped up the $150 for a skydiving excursion nearly every weekend.
Then, on her 30th jump, her main chute failed to deploy. Working the reserve chute was tougher than she'd expected and it opened only 1,000 feet above the ground -- about 2,000 feet below normal -- sending a scare into Kramar that convinced her to quit. But first, she had to fulfill a promise to a friend to help out at a "boogie" -- a kind of skydivers' convention.
"I sat there the whole weekend staring at the sky and realizing that whether I wanted to be or not, I was a skydiver and I couldn't stop," she says. "It had gotten into my heart and soul."
So Kramar got her own gear and has been doing about 200 jumps a year ever since. Today, she has about 1,100 jumps under her belt.
This year, the skydivers will gather in Perris, Calif., between Oct. 13-18 for their record-breaking attempt.
They will fly to 18,500 feet in seven airplanes -- a flight requiring oxygen beginning at 12,000 feet, Kramar says. Then, when they're over their target, they'll yank off their oxygen masks and hurl themselves out of the aircraft to create and hold a pinwheel formation for at least three seconds during their 80-second descent.
"It looks like a big starburst," she says.
At 5,500 feet, the formation will begin to break up. Kramar, who is on the outside of the pinwheel, will turn 180 degrees from center and straighten out, allowing the next wave of the formation to break off three seconds later, followed by another two or three waves, ensuring enough time and air space for everyone's chutes to open.
The daring jump is not without its dangers, she says, including free-fall collisions that can leave a skydiver unconscious, tangled parachutes, or an air funnel that sucks everyone up like a whirlwind.
To minimize the risk, Kramar says, the women will assemble early the morning of the jump in a field for "dirt diving," or practice runs, that allow them to simulate exits from the aircraft, sky positions, grips and breaking off. The risk, she says, is low.
"I feel really good about our chances this year," Kramar says. "Everyone has to be a highly experienced jumper, with a minimum of close to 1,000 jumps. And big waves of 100-plus are becoming a lot more common and successful more often."
Each of the skydivers has promised to raise a minimum of $2,200, Kramar says, noting she's about half way there. Meanwhile, she jokes that her main concern is the "Pepto Bismol-pink" jump suit -- signifying the breast cancer cause -- she has to wear.
"We'll have a great time," she said. "There are a lot of very good skydivers going and I feel very honored to be included in this group."
Want to help? Visit the event's Web site at www.jumpforthecause.com.
(This post was edited by quade on Oct 5, 2002, 11:13 AM)
2 county women join fund-raising bid for sky-diving record By staff reports October 8, 2002
Two county women will team up with sky divers from across the nation to raise money for breast cancer research by attempting to set a world record from Sunday through Oct. 18.
Debbie Jasek of Santa Paula and Jayna Sommer of Thousand Oaks will join with 148 other women in the organization, Jump for the Cause, to build a formation of 150 sky divers in hopes of raising $1 million through sponsorships.
The money is earmarked for research at the City of Hope Cancer Center in Duarte to help the one in eight women around the globe battling breast cancer.
Jump for the Cause is a nonprofit organization that organizes sky-diving fund-raisers. They are attempting to set a world's record Perris Valley Skydiving Center in Perris. Perris Valley is the biggest sky-diving center in North America.
Jump for the Cause was founded by Mallory Lewis after her mother, puppeteer Shari Lewis, lost her battle with breast cancer in 1998.
The money is raised by each jumper through sponsorships.
For more information, please call (800) 260-4673.
quade (D 22635)
Oct 15, 2002, 3:18 PM
Post #5 of 19
PR Newswire is a service that distributes stories from clients to news rooms across the country. The content of a PR Newswire story usually originates from a press relations person associated with the client company.
PERRIS, Calif, Oct. 15 /PRNewswire/ -- Organizers of Jump for the Cause have issued the following statement:
"Shannon Embry, 40, died yesterday while making a skydive. An experienced skydiver, Shannon was from Tennessee. She was participating in a Women's World Record attempt, Jump For The Cause, a breast cancer fundraiser. After an uneventful skydive, her main parachute malfunctioned and for reasons unknown, she was unable to jettison her main parachute and open her reserve parachute. She gave her life while trying to save others. Shannon is mourned by her sisters on this skydive, skydivers worldwide, and by her friends and family."
Before the event started, skydivers were asked to explain their participation. Shannon's statement reads: "I am very lucky in that I do not have a personal story related to cancer. But I believe that all of us should do whatever we can wherever and whenever possible. Doing something you love like skydiving and using it to combat something as hateful as cancer, seems like a win-win situation."
Jump for the Cause participants have unanimously decided to commemorate Shannon by resuming their attempts to set a new world record. After this morning's memorial service, close to 140 women from around this country and the world will try to build the world's largest women's skydiving formation. Participants hail from Japan, Italy, Sweden, Brazil, Germany, Austria, Canada, Australia, United Kingdom, Norway, New Zealand, and Russia and from most of the 50 United States. The formation is considered a world record when it is held for at least three seconds to break the previous Women's World record of 118 Women (achieved by Jump for the Cause in 1999).
The event aims to raise over $1,000,000 for breast cancer research. Participants have been working to raise money by selling t-shirts, pins and hosting events. Jump for the Cause was founded by Mallory Lewis and Brad Hood of Jump Run Productions and Kate Cooper and Tony Domenico of Square One Parachute Sales.
Hood has filmed numerous skydiving sequences for major motion pictures as well as many national television commercials. Lewis is an Emmy Award winning television producer and now works with her mother's (Shari Lewis) famous puppet, Lamb Chop.
Cooper and Domenico are two of the sport's most experienced record event organizers and were key organizers on the last three World Teams. Both are multiple World Record holders, national competitors and medalists, and are much sought after as large formation trainers and key organizers.
(This post was edited by quade on Oct 15, 2002, 3:37 PM)
Quade, thanks for posting those press clips. I had my 50%whuffo wife read them and her understanding of the dedication and effort of the JFTC women as increased greatly. Our thoughts and prayers are with our fallen comrades family and friends.
quade (D 22635)
Oct 15, 2002, 5:09 PM
Post #7 of 19
Skydiver dies during Perris breast cancer fund-raising event
The Associated Press
A skydiver who was part of a group of women trying to set a world record as part of a breast cancer fund-raiser fell to her death, authorities said Tuesday.
Shannon Embry, 43, of Mt. Juliet, Tenn., was participating in "Jump for the Cause" on Monday when she died at the Perris Valley Skydiving Center, officials and event organizers said.
Witnesses told investigators Embry deployed her parachute, but appeared to "go limp" while she was in the air, said Riverside County Sheriff's Sgt. Shelley Kennedy-Smith.
An autopsy would determine the cause of death, she said.
Event organizer Mallory Lewis described Embry as an experienced skydiver.
"Shannon loved skydiving, and she was so proud of this event. She died, essentially, while trying to save other lives," Lewis said.
It was likely Embry was somehow knocked unconscious after deploying her parachute, she said.
About 135 women from around the world were trying to set a world record by forming the largest women's skydiving formation. The record stands at 118 women, which was achieved by a "Jump for the Cause" group in 1999.
Organizers hope to raise over $1 million for breast cancer research. Skydivers resumed their attempts Tuesday after a service honoring Embry.
Perris is about 75 miles southeast of downtown Los Angeles.
Fortunately, we've all had the benefit of a little time to prepare ourselves in answering the hard questions this time around.
I think most of us "locals" heard about this last night and the rest of us dz.com folks heard about it this morning. The PR Newswire story was filed this morning but only moved 3 hours ago and the regular wire services have only started moving it within the last hour.
BTW, I don't know who over at JFTC had to write the PR Newswire copy, but I think they did a really nice job of presenting the facts and handling the spin the right way.
(This post was edited by quade on Oct 15, 2002, 5:29 PM)
I had just met Shannon for the first time only a day before. She appeared to be healthy, fit. Maybe 5 foot 8 and 130 pounds, but honestly that's just my recollection. She may have been slightly taller and lighter.
I had a bit of extra time on my hands today and spoke to a few folks that were at the drop zone at the time of Shannon's incident. From people I know and trust, here is what I've learned.
Shannon appears to have had a normal jump and break-off. She was seen tracking normally and out tracking many.
Witnesses I spoke with did not see any line-twists, but they did notice that the canopy, a Stiletto 120, began a turn, which developed into a spiral. At least one person thought this was a normal spiral simply to lose altitude until it became so low as to make it readily apparent it was not.
Shannon was found about 100 feet south of the canal and about 1/4 mile south of the main grass landing area. Since many people were watching the formation from the packing area and noticed the situation, aid was immediately dispatched and reached Shannon within about 30 to 60 seconds of her reaching the ground.
Shannon was found face up, on her back and in a position which one witness described to me as if ready to make a snow angel. Please understand that I say this not to make light of the situation, but to give an accurate description of her position.
It appears as if Shannon did not break any bones from the impact.
The brakes were still stowed and her slider had not yet been stowed.
Shannon was wearing a full-face helmet and she appears to have received a cut on her chin from that.
Please don't post a lot of speculation about this. I believe we should wait until the Coroner's report is released and read about what was determined to be the actual cause of this.
quade (D 22635)
Oct 17, 2002, 8:39 PM
Post #18 of 19
Parachute malfunction blamed for death of Mt. Juliet woman By ANDY HUMBLES Staff Writer
Her significant other believes Shannon Embry died smiling.
Embry, 43, of Mt. Juliet fell to her death while sky diving in Perris, Calif., on Monday as part of a group of women trying to set a world sky-diving record as part of a fund-raiser for breast cancer research.
''I can say this: She had a big smile on her face when it happened,'' said Mt. Juliet's Fred Strunk, who had lived with Embry the past five years. ''She was doing what she wanted.''
The benefit was called ''Jump For The Cause,'' designed to raise money for the City of Hope Cancer Research.
Organizer Mallory Lewis said the record attempt was for 135 women to hold a free-fall formation for three seconds. The previous record also had been set by a ''Jump for the Cause'' group with 118 women.
On the third try for the record Monday, Embry was unable to free herself from a malfunctioning parachute, Lewis said. She said Embry was probably unconscious in the air.
''The parachute opened too quickly,'' Strunk said. ''It's equivalent of going 120 miles an hour in a car and slowing down to 20 miles per hour in one second. You can tell by certain things she wasn't doing that she was unconscious.''
An autopsy showed Embry was killed by impact with the ground, meaning she had probably blacked out in midair because of the sudden slowdown from the parachute, said Sgt. Shelley Kennedy-Smith of the Riverside County, Calif., Sheriff's Department.
Strunk said he and Embry had sky-dived all over the world. He said Embry had been jumping for nine years without incident.
''I've had 4,700 jumps and never an elbow scrape,'' Strunk said. ''What happened would be the equivalent of being hit by lightning on a golf course. You can't blame anyone.''
Lewis said Embry was picked based on her skill and experience. She said the other sky divers would continue to try and set the record.
''She was very good, as were all the women,'' Lewis said. ''It's not golf. Sky diving is an extreme sport, and we all understand the inherent risks and inherent joys of the sport. I do know this: Shannon died in the service of others.''
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
It's unclear if the Coroner's report has actually been released yet.
(This post was edited by quade on Oct 17, 2002, 8:43 PM)
quade (D 22635)
Oct 18, 2002, 4:00 PM
Post #19 of 19
Comrades remember skydiver by continuing event CHARITY: Noting that Shannon Embry died doing what she loved, they'll try to set a record.
By GUY MCCARTHY THE PRESS-ENTERPRISE
PERRIS - Despite the death of a skydiving comrade on Monday, more than 130 women from across the globe continued their pursuit this week of a world-record formation freefall to raise money for breast cancer research.
Shannon Embry, 43, of Mount Juliet, Tenn., died during a jump while attending the week-long gathering at Perris Valley Skydiving. But Embry died doing what she loved, and doing it for a good cause, organizers said. Jump for the Cause 2002 participants had raised close to $400,000 by Thursday.
"She obviously had a passion for skydiving and for helping other people," said event manager Richard Seymour, 40, of Los Angeles. "She died doing both of these things, which is an homage to her life, really."
An autopsy showed Embry died of multiple blunt-force trauma at the end of a jump, Riverside County Sheriff's Department officials said.
"The doctor (who performed the autopsy) is saying that, as a result of hitting the ground, she tore her lung and her aorta," said sheriff's spokeswoman Shelley Kennedy-Smith.
According to witness statements, Embry's parachute deployed but it appeared she was not guiding it, Kennedy-Smith said. Some witnesses told investigators Embry appeared to go limp after her chute opened.
Investigators are having the parachute checked to see if it malfunctioned, Kennedy-Smith said.
The Jump for the Cause 2002 official Web site (www.jumpforthecause.com/) included a black-bordered box with this account of the accident:
"After an uneventful skydive, her main parachute malfunctioned and, for unknown reasons, she was unable to jettison her main parachute and open her reserve parachute," the statement said. "She gave her life while trying to save others. Shannon is mourned by her sisters on this skydive, skydivers worldwide, and by her friends and family."
One of the event's organizers, Jill Scheidel, 44, of San Francisco said Embry "believed in this sport big-time. She was one of the top donors to Jump for the Cause, and she died while participating."
Participants paid a minimum of $2,200 each to take part in the event, Scheidel said. Other donations come from sponsors of individual jumpers or go directly to Jump for the Cause 2002.
The world-record attempts resumed Tuesday after a service honoring Embry. The women skydivers, who continue their attempts today, saluted Embry by writing words of remembrance on posters showing a photo of her in a headfirst freefall.
"Teach the angels how to fly," "Blue skies forever" and "We know you will be with us on the record and always" were some of the comments.
Embry's death was the first at Perris Valley Skydiving in three years, said facility owner Melanie Conaster.
"We average 120,000 jumps here a year," Conaster said. "In the sport of skydiving, typically a fatality occurs every 100,000 jumps. That's safer than scuba diving, race car driving and other recreational sports. Skydiving seems to have a stigma attached to it."
The current women's world record is 118 skydivers in a single formation, set by a Jump for the Cause group in 1999. Organizers this year hope to set a record of 135 women or more.
Reach Guy McCarthy at (909) 567-2408 or email@example.com
Kurt Miller/The Press-Enterprise Jump for the Cause 2002 at Perris Valley Skydiving in Perris continues despite the death of skydiver Shannon Embry on Monday. Participants play an impromptu game of leapfrog Thursday while waiting for overcast skies to clear.
Kurt Miller/The Press-Enterprise Fellow jumpers sign a poster memorializing Shannon Embry, who was killed Monday during Jump for the Cause 2002, a charity dive in which more than $400,000 has been raised for breast cancer research.
Shannon Embry, 43, of Mount Juliet, Tenn., died of blunt-force trauma at the end of a jump Monday, officials say. Her parachute deployed but she did not appear to be guiding it, witnesses say.