If you haven’t heard the news about Adrian Kooistra yet, I would be truly surprised. Perhaps you saw the news article in the Sunshine Coast Daily or saw a news item on TV and just didn’t connect the dots. Adrian is a member of EPICC Maleny and, recently, he successfully undertook one of his dream adventures.
At the end of 2016, Adrian wrote about his desire to skydive: “As a guy, I have a wild side … Why should I not go skydiving just because I am in a wheelchair? I want my part of a good life.” When Jackie heard this, she commented that “Adrian is a thrill seeker”. We were all in awe of Adrian and his desire to engage in skydiving. Some of the able-bodied members of the group identified that they would never want to sky dive. They labelled Adrian’s desire to skydive as ‘brave’. Others might think it ‘foolish’ given his disability. Adrian, however, is not one to let his disability hold him back from participating in anything.
The headline in the Sunshine Coast Daily ‘Disability proves no barrier to exhilarating dive’ (i.e. skydive) exemplifies this aspect of Adrian. Please go to https://www.sunshinecoastdaily.com.au/news/disability-proves-no-barrier-to-exhilarating-dive/3151330/ and read the article for yourself, see the photos and view the video of Adrian skydiving.
Everyone in EPICC Maleny is thrilled for Adrian. We want to shout from the treetops: ‘Congratulations Adrian for your tenacity and courage in undertaking this adventure. We look forward to hearing about your next one.’
My Skydiving Adventure
By Adrian Kooistra
Last Sunday I woke up with the knowledge that ‘today my dream will become reality’. I was beyond excited, but equally terrified. I had a mad smile permanently fixed on my face and I’m sure there was a visible manic glint in my eyes. This was nothing in comparison to my poor mum’s panic, and my brother, Brett’s excitement. He would be diving with me. Us boys were keen. As I was being strapped up in the harness, my heart was racing and fluttering, stomach somersaulting and my brain conjuring up some truly ridiculous scenarios. Waiting for the flight was the longest hour of my life. I just wanted to get up there. When it was finally time to take off, I said a quite ‘bye, mum, I might see you on the ground if neither of us die of fright’ and we were off.
Up and up and up we flew. Brett babbling away the whole time and Wayne (my instructor) speaking encouraging calm words of support. They asked me one last time if I was positive I wanted to jump and I just about burst trying to clearly express “HELL YES!” We stood on the edge preparing to jump and it occurred to me, we may all be insane jumping from a perfectly fine plane. Oh well, embrace the insanity!
Falling! or rather tumbling! Oh Shit! Terror gripped my heart as we somersaulted through the air not able to differentiate up from down. Then Wayne orientated us and we were plummeting staggeringly fast toward the ground. What a rush! I felt for the first time true freedom and, in that moment, I didn’t really care if my parachute opened or not. I felt as if I were flying and I wished I were a bird, so I could experience that sensation for the rest of my life. Suddenly, we were flung to a slower speed as the parachute opened, but with a twist. We dropped once more. Stopped. Dropped again, then finally Wayne gave a tug and we slowed again. Thumbs up, we are all good. Spiralling back to the Earth now much more evenly, I saw the crowd gathered below, took in the stunning scenery and my heart burst with joy. I’d done it!
Landing was nerve wracking as I could tell as we descended that the catchers were going to struggle to catch my legs. I felt Wayne tip backwards and scoop my legs up with his own. Impact …. No pain …. Phew! Safe, exhausted and proud as punch! Voices surrounding me. Congratulating me. Strong arms lifting me into my chair, but, all I really wanted was a strong drink.
Dream now realised, I felt a little sad. It was over, but then I realised I can just do it again!
When I first heard about Adrian wanting to skydive, I got excited for him and for all of us. It sounded like a great idea. I didn’t think I’d be able to go watch. I was lucky that Dad was happy to take me. There were so many people there to watch Adrian. Even the news people came. The sun was hot. The crowd was excited. The wait was long. Then someone said ‘There they are’. It took a long time for me to see him. He was almost landing by then. The crowd went wild as he touched down safely. I was able to go over to him and congratulate him. We hung around for a bit because it was an incredible experience for all of us. Adrian was so pumped. It was an honour to be a part of his experience. I don’t know if I want to do it, but Adrian inspired me in general to look at my limitations and see how real they are. Well done, Adrian.
Adrian the Thrill Seeker
By Jackie Irwin
Adrian Kooistra is a good friend of mine. Last weekend he did something he had wanted to do for ages. He did a tandem skydive. He did it down on the Sunshine Coast at Coolum Beach. I can only imagine how much adrenaline he must have had coursing through his body. Personally, I wouldn’t like to leap from a plane. I prefer different challenges. But if Adrian wanted to challenge himself, he certainly picked a very extreme way to do it. Well done my friend.