Published: December 10, 2018
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Irene O'Shea is an inspiring woman, living her life to the fullest with incredible humility.
Irene has a personal connection with South Australian charity, the Motor Neurone Disease Association of South Australia. Irene's daughter sadly lost her fight with MND years ago and Irene decided that a lifetime dream of hers to skydive would be the perfect opportunity to raise awareness and money for MNDSA.
Irene completed her first skydive with the team at SA Skydiving for her 100th birthday in 2016. The team at SA Skydiving thought this was an amazing achievement and she was an absolute joy to have on the dropzone. She then returned to SA Skydiving in 2017, in a larger fundraising event with MNDSA, this time to become the oldest female skydiver in the World. The skydive went smoothly and she landed herself in the record books and set the stage for 2018 to go one better.
Surrounded by friends and family, on a sunny Sunday, Irene arrived at SA Skydiving's Langhorne Creek Dropzone around 1pm, December 9th, 2018. Irene has jumped twice already with SA Skydiving instructor Jed Smith and was welcomed with a friendly hug from the 24 year old paramedic. Jed is a very experienced instructor, learning to skydive at 14 and since completing over 3,700 skydives.
The two reacquainted as they refreshed through the pre-skydive training. Irene showcased her incredible humility with the team from Channel 9's Today Show, when asked about being an extraordinary adrenaline junkie, she responded with "as far as I'm concerned I'm the same as everyone else, just a normal person". Irene's main wish is to raise as much awareness and money as possible for MNDSA.
Donations can be made through the websites of MNDSA (https://www.mndsa.org.au/Home.aspx) or SA Skydiving (http://www.saskydiving.com.au/book-online/donate-irenes-world-record-skydive/)
After a refresher with Jed, Irene spoke about MNDSA with the Today Show's Georgia Westgarth, before gearing up in specialised harnesses. SA Skydiving's specialised harness allows Jed to assist Irene in raising her legs, mitigating risk on landing.
Irene, Jed and cameramen, Bryce Sellick and Matt Teager, headed to the plane, Irene giving out hugs to multiple generations before boarding. They waved with big excited smiles as the plane taxi'd up the runway. Irene was full of smiles and excitement on the ride up to just over 14,000ft, getting a supply of fresh oxygen from SA Skydiving instructors.
The four skydivers did their final safety and gear checks before opening the door and moving into their exit positions; thumbs up all round, then ready, set, go!
Irene and Jed completed a smooth, beautiful freefall, falling at 220kph through wispy clouds, before a smooth parachute opening. They then cruised around the beautiful skies above Langhorne Creek, enjoying the views of Lake Alexandrina, the Coorong and the Murray Mouth.
Friends and family excitedly waited on the ground for Irene and Jed, who executed a perfect smooth landing assisted by a team of SA Skydiving staff members.
Irene, once safely, was assisted from the landing area into the arms of some very excited grandkids and great grandkids. Excited congratulations were shared all around as Irene and the SA Skydiving team secured their place in the record books.
MNDSA's Narelle Kaimins and Carol Armstrong were very proud of Irene's achievement and were at the airfield showing their support. SA Skydiving and MNDSA will be hosting a large skydiving fundraising event in February to raise further awareness and funds for the much needed cure for MND. To get involved, raise money and skydive like Irene, contact MNDSA or SA Skydiving on 0412114475 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
SA Skydiving congratulates Irene on her amazing achievements, thanks all parties invovled in making this record happen and look forward to raising more awareness and money for MNDSA.
Jump Instructor: Jed Smith
Cameramen: Bryce Sellick, Matt Teager
Pilot and Chief Instructor: Greg Smith
Ground Control: Jana Fitzpatrickw