Leaping into the open air and plummeting toward the earth at 120 miles per hour did not intimidate eight members of the Airborne Amputees in their inaugural jump on Nov. 10, 2007. Sponsored by the Amputee and Prosthetic Center in Houston, eight amputees and 20 employees of the center made the jump as a symbol of hope for amputees across the world.
The idea for Airborne Amputees originated from a simple challenge. A challenge laid down by prosthetist Ben Falls, CP to his amputee patient, Jody Wallace. Wallace had skydived before she lost her limb in a car accident 5 years ago, but was hesitant to jump as an amputee. Falls challenged Wallace to skydive with him, but she refused. Her previous skydiving encounter ended when she hit the ground hard, and her instructor toppled on top of her.
Wallace eventually accepted the challenge, convinced others to do the same, and the Airborne Amputees was created.
According to Joe Sansone, chief executive officer of the Amputee and Prosthetic Center, the first annual Airborne Amputee event almost didn’t get off the ground. The day before their scheduled event, an employee of the skydiving company the Airborne Amputees were diving with lost his life in a jump when his parachute failed to open.
The event was not cancelled, but after the news broke, the original list of nearly 30 amputee skydivers dwindled down to eight. Those remaining eight conquered their fears, loaded onto a plane, and safely made their jump. They proved to themselves, and to the spectators, that life is not over after amputation.