‘I made it!’ First-time skydiver, 80, takes big leap in wedding dress

'I made it!' First-time skydiver, 80, takes big leap in wedding dress

She’s not your typical skydiver, and she’s not wearing your typical skydiving apparel.

“I wish my husband could see me now,” said Betty John, 80, moments after jumping from a Skydive Vancouver Island plane.

John took another leap of faith on her birthday Saturday, Aug. 26, this time 10,000 feet above the Central Island. And she did it in a wedding dress.

“I’ve been married three times, never in a wedding dress,” John told Skydive VI staff before boarding the plane. “So I figured it’s about time I put a wedding dress on.”

It’s better late than never, and her lucky instructor that day was in for a skydive like no other.

“The instructor that she went with … he’s got over 21,000 skydives, and that was the first time he’s taken anyone in a wedding dress,” said Gord Gauvin, owner of Skydive VI.

So John faced her fear, eight decades in the making, seeing the Island in a whole new light.

“Holy crap!” she yelled on video, with the ocean to her right, mountains to her left and Nanoose Bay thousands of feet beneath her.

“The views are unbelievable, and yeah, I’ve jumped all over the world, and I think we have one of the most picturesque spots right here,” Gauvin told CHEK News.

John vowed to hold on tight, dropping at speeds up to 200 kilometres an hour.

And while she wasn’t tying the knot this time around, there was a knot in her stomach. Of course, she says she felt a little “anxious” before taking off.

“The time of her life.”

The feat for fun, which left some “blown away,” was also for charity.

“I don’t even think I could jump out of a plane. I’m like, ‘Oh my goodness!'” exclaimed Cally Wesson, president and CEO of BC Women’s Health Foundation.

It all stems back to about two years ago when John tested positive for COVID-19. But her symptoms didn’t go away quickly — she says she felt debilitating effects for more than a year.

“…fatigue, dizziness, difficulty breathing, brain fog,” Wesson told CHEK News. “It’s one of those things that’s really hard to diagnose and understand.”

John has long-COVID, and now she’s hoping her big jump will bring her online fundraiser for long-COVID research to new heights. She wants to raise $5,000 for the foundation.

“The money that Betty’s raising is going to help really forward research in this area,” said Wesson. “The more that we can learn about long-COVID, the better treatments that are available.”

John, parachuting in through a blue-skies aisle, wasn’t greeted by the Bridal March but rather applause.

“She had the time of her life, yeah, absolutely,” added Gauvin. “She had friends and family here and even had a band that played her in. They made a real event out of it, which was really awesome for all of our staff and everybody here.”

And, of course, with that harness clipped on tight, you can’t wrinkle the wedding dress.

“I made it! Now, how do I get out of this?” said John after making a safe landing.

Her fundraiser is here.

Ethan MorneauEthan Morneau

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