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County residents overcome their fears and skydive to celebrate their loved ones

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — July will mark three years since Van Buren resident Sherry Theriault lost her son Austin West to suicide.

He was 15 years old.

West would have graduated from Van Buren High School with his class on Friday night. The next day, Theriault crossed off a wish that had been on both of their bucket lists before he died.

County residents skydive PI.
(Nina Mahaleris)

She went skydiving.

Theriault said that it was a way to honor the life of her son and celebrate his memory.

Like Theriault, many of the people tried skydiving on Saturday, June 8, to share an experience with a loved one.

Delaney Williams, 22, bought her father Seth the skydiving package for Father’s Day. Seth said it was “quite a shocker, actually,” because skydiving was never something he had planned to do in his life.

But when his daughter surprised him with the gift, he agreed to jump with her.

April Caron, 72, had a similar reason. Like Williams, she had never planned on skydiving in her life. “It wasn’t even on my bucket list,” she said. But when a young woman she mentors signed up and needed a partner, Caron volunteered.

“That [skydiving] blows your mind,” Caron said.

April Caron prepares to enter the plane for her jump.
(Nina Mahaleris)

This is the third year SAD 1 has offered the skydiving program, according to Amanda Conroy, the personal enrichment coordinator. Conroy said the Adult and Community Education program initially came up with the idea to introduce skydiving as a way to offer something new to County residents who otherwise may have never thought about doing it.

“It’s always very well received,” said Conroy. For the past few years, SAD 1 has teamed up with Vacationland Skydiving, a company based in Pittsfield, to bring skydiving to Aroostook County.

Whether they’ve always wanted to do it, or decided to on a whim, the jumpers overcame their nerves and took the leap.

“People jump for all kinds of reasons. You’ve just gotta find yours,” a team member of Vacationland Skydiving said.

To reach a suicide prevention hotline, call 888-568-1112 or 800-273-TALK (8255), or visit www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org.

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