Students jump, overcome fears


Have you ever had to put your complete trust in a total stranger?

If so, you understand the gut-wrenching feeling you can get in the pit of your stomach. Perhaps it was a life-threatening situation such as a whitewater rafting trip or an allergic reaction to a food.         Maybe you had last-minute second thoughts that were too late to act upon and frightened you even more.

In less than two weeks, accompanied by professionals, a group of 28 students from UNF, other students and friends from around Florida will take a leap of faith, literally, out of a jet plane flying 120 mph. Thosegoing on the trip will tandem jump with trained jumpers from the Sky Dive Space Center.

“For me, when I was little I hated roller coasters and now, I love roller coasters everytime, and I’m hoping that this [will be] sort of the same thing,” said Michael Penrod, a senior  business management major.

These thrill-seekers will voluntarily take a trip to jump 15,000 feet from a plane, safety-checked by complete strangers. They will fly on a jet from the Sky Dive Space Center, being flown by complete strangers.

Then, the jumpers will put their lives in the hands of the professional skydiver strapped to their back, whom they just met that day, whose vital job is to pull the line on the parachute at just the right time to save you from meeting the Earth.

The upcoming trip will be Penrod’s first time ever skydiving. Although he doesn’t like heights or free-falling, he will be taking a risk and take a jump most will never experience, he said.

“I guess what it comes down to is will I actually do it or not,” Penrod said. “Yeah, at the moment I have every intention of jumping, but, we’ll see.”

During UNF’s graduation ceremony April 24, the Annual Giving Office will give each graduating senior a bookmark listing the “Top 10 Things to do After Graduation” with the number one choice: skydiving.

Lyndse Costabile, assistant director of development for Major Gifts at UNF, first thought up the event with the idea to mix skydiving and networking.

Costabile joins the jumpers each year and has been skydiving many times before. She considers it a life-altering experience that makes you feel more powerful when it’s all said and done, she said.

“This is a great way to overcome your fear of heights,” she said. “It changes your whole outlook.”

Kristoffer Francisco went on last year’s skydiving trip because he “thought it was a great way to meet with current students and other alumni in a fun and exciting event,” he said.

Francisco is a member of the UNF Alumni Board of Directors and an insurance broker for Insurance Office of America and thinks skydiving is “exhilarating” and “more relaxing than going into a board meeting,” he said.

UNF’s Second Annual Skydiving Event is scheduled to take place at the Skydive Space Center in Titusville, Fla. from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. April 25

If you are interested in joining fellow students, friends and alumni to skydive April 25, contact Costabile at (904) 620-1672.

E-mail April Schulhauser at [email protected].