• A Speck in the sky or a Speck in your eye?

    by Cathy Speck

    The free falling photo from Skydive 2010 features (left to right) skydiver Maggie Williams, tandem skydive jump master Sean Harrison (above), Cathy Speck (below), and skydiver Perry Colburn.

    Are you reading this now? Ha ha, that’s a trick question, but the joke’s on me. And the drink is on me, too, if you get here soon enough.

    “Hmmm,” you might be wondering. You can stop wondering, and ease those worry lines, too. If you are fortunate enough to be reading iPinion this morning of Sunday, May 20, it’s not too late to come join a “specktacular” event:

    Look, up in the sky! It’s a speck; it’s a dot; it’s getting bigger; it looks human-ish; it’s two flying humans. Wow! Oh my, there’s no parachute! What?… help!.. Wwaa woooo! Yiii ooo… woooo… there’s big color! It’s a parachute, a brightly-colored rainbow parachute, and it’s beautifully and gracefully floating through the sky with those two humans. They’re getting closer, and I can see… hey, that’s my friend April in that tandem brilliance!

    My dear friend April just landed (safely) with her skydiving instructor and “jump master” at Skydance Skydiving at the Yolo County Airport. (April is not gay — rainbows and flying unicorns can be for everyone!)

    Okay, then…. Why might you care about my friends playing in the sky with floating rainbows? That’s what I’m sharing with you now, so read on. Follow me and my walker. (That sounds like a children’s book written by an 80-year old grandma.) Oh, and just so you know, they aren’t called “parachutes” anymore — they are canopies.

    The photo post-dive from Skydive 2010 includes tandem skydive instructor Sean Harrison, Cathy Speck, and friends on the "victory Walk" after landing successfully.

    I’m hanging out on the ground with my friends at The Third Annual ALS Skydiving Specktacular. If you want to join me (there’s still time to get trained and take the dive if you hurry), stop reading this now and join the party. Skydance is located at the Yolo County Airport at 24390 Aviation Avenue in rural Davis.

    Here’s an interview of sorts, by an award-winning writer, that explains why I’m here, and why I want you here with me today:

    What is ALS (aka Lou Gehrig’s Disease) and why do we care?

    Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a fatal, progressive neurodegenerative disease. It can impact anyone. There are no racial, ethnic, or socioeconomic boundaries, and it is very rarely genetic. The average life expectancy is two to five years post diagnosis. There is no cure.

    Determined to raise $15,000 towards finding a cure for ALS (most commonly called Lou Gehrig’s Disease), the Specktaculars, a team composed of friends, family and co-workers of former renowned singer-songwriter and native Davisite Cathy Speck, will be walking for their cause at the October 6th Sacramento Walk to Defeat ALS. Speck was diagnosed with the genetic form of ALS in 2009.

    But first, today Sunday, May 20, the 3rd Annual ALS Skydiving Specktacular is taking off, just like a plane.

    “Everyone is invited to either skydive or come and hang out, have a picnic and watch your friends flying toward earth,” welcomes co-producer Cathy Speck. “The purpose of this event is to raise awareness for ALS and raise money so that the Specktaculars can give a super big hunk of money to the ALS Walk. And this year we’re also participating in the Ride to Defeat ALS — a fundraising bicycle ride through the beautiful Napa Valley, so folks can sign up for that too. We have an ALS staff person on site to explain details and assist in signing up for either or both heartwarming and fun events.”

    Says Speck who jumped in 2010, ” I’ve heard so many people say they don’t like heights, and the thought of jumping out of a plane terrifies them. I don’t like heights either, but this is different . You have three canopies (aka parachutes) attached to your ”jump master,” the expert person who is strapped on your back. They wouldn’t be doing this with you if it weren’t safe — they’d be risking their lives for someone they don’t even know. People with ALS or other disabilities are invited to skydive, like I did. But please call now so they can assess your needs. I love the good people of Skydance.”

    Speck continues, “It never feels like falling, it feels like flying. It’s almost a spiritual experience. Call now, then get over here, the more we sign up, the cheaper it is. ” The last training class is at 3 p.m., but most of us might be done by then.”

    Everyone is invited to get on over here at Skydance Skydiving, and learn more about the Walk and the Ride to defeat ALS. The Ride is June 30, and with Davis being the home of the US National Bicycle Hall of Fame, we’re expecting large groups of Davis cyclists in this ALS fundraiser for all ALS Chapters in California. More details at:www.ridetodefeatals.org

    One of five in her family impacted by ALS, which stands for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Cathy Speck was diagnosed only months after losing her brother Larry to ALS. Having lost her mother Dorothy to ALS at the age of 13 and most recently her brother Paul last May, Cathy is well educated about the disease and has spent a lifetime coping with its devastating impact and advocating for its cure.

    Some members of the Speck family have/had a rare SOD1 genetic mutation, E133A, which runs on her mother’s side. Each of Cathy Speck’s siblings has a 50% chance of inheriting the genetic mutation., and it carries on into the future generations.

    This is also a unique opportunity to talk personally with ALS staff , people who have ALS and their families and friends. As Speck says, “I understand that in general, our society doesn’t like to talk about terminal illnesses, dying and death, especially when it concerns someone you love, or even just like. But I have found that the more we embrace this process, and welcome people into that embrace, the more open and comfortable we become. Death is guaranteed, and it’s much easier to not be afraid of what’s coming. Knowing about it actually makes each day special and less stressful.”

    The mission of ALSSAC (ALS Association, Sacramento Area Chapter) is to lead the fight to cure and treat ALS through global, cutting-edge research, and to empower people with ALS and their families to live fuller lives by providing them with compassionate care and support. Cathy declares regularly that ALSSAC has “saved my life. Well, you know, I’m gonna die of ALS, but I’m not done yet, and ALSSAC keeps me going.”

    Oops, I almost forgot — I’m the award-winning writer. I’ll write more about that in another Ipinion column.

    Dates to remember

    ~ Walk to Defeat ALS, Sacramento’s largest signature event at Raley Field is set for Saturday, October 6, 2012, to register visit www.walktodefeatals.org.
    ~ Ride to Defeat ALS, Napa’s premier Century Ride was just added to the Greater Sacramento 2012 event line up for Saturday, June 30, 2012. Visit Ride to Defeat ALS, Napa’s premier Century Ride was just added to the Greater Sacramento 2012 event line up for Saturday, June 30, 2012. Visit www.ridetodefeatals.org to sign up.o sign up.

    Directions to Skydance

    From Sacramento
    Take Interstate 80 west (towards San Francisco)
    Take the Hwy.113 exit heading north (towards Woodland)
    Take the road 29 exit and turn right (back over the freeway)
    Stay on road 29 for 6 miles
    Turn left on Aviation Ave. (SkyDance is the first building on the right)

    From San Francisco or Bay Area
    Take Interstate 80 east (towards Sacramento)
    Take Interstate 505 north (towards Redding)
    Follow I-505 for about 15 miles
    Take the Road 29A exit and turn right (east)
    Follow Road 29A for 6 miles
    Turn right on Aviation Ave. (SkyDance is first building on the right)

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