Today, our Youth Ambassador Sophia led by example, by ditching her wheelchair to take to the skies to parachute
Sophia is the daughter of our CEO Nicky Banger, and Stephanie who is the Marketing Manager of the Knights Foundation. Sophia was born prematurely at just 26 weeks, suffering a stroke at birth which subsequently left her with Cerebral Palsy. As Sophia grew up, it was apparent that this was purely a mobility issue, with boths legs being severely affected, with her arms less so.
Sophia has endured daily physio and numerous surgeries over the years, both in the UK and USA. After years of botox injections, Sophia travelled to St. Louis (USA) in 2012 to have SDR surgery (Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy) with the pioneering surgeon Dr Parks, which was hugely successful. Click HERE to see a video clip of her pre and post surgery.
Other surgeries that Sophia has endured are hamstring lengthening, double hip reconstruction, double foot reconstruction, to name but a few. She's been through a lot for such a young lady, but still was adamant that she wanted to push herself to do this skydive, something that she's always wanted to do, to raise funds for the Charity. She's such a brave soldier ❤️
Below you can see Sophia in her important skydive preparations!!!
This photo shows Ryan, her Instructor, taking her through the ropes! Ryan has done over 11,000 skydives and so is extremely experienced, and was excited himself to be able to take Sophia on this dream adventure of hers...
Being a full time wheelchair user, there are obviously more difficulties and obstacles that Sophia faces, compared to most people wishing to skydive.
Sophia struggles to lift ler legs in front of her, and so this would be an issue when coming in for the landing. Ryan and the team were absolutely brilliant, and velcroed these straps around her knees so that she could pull her own legs up in front. He would also nudge her legs forward from behind when coming in to land, to assist with this.
Another issue was being able to sit along the benches on the plane, and manoeuvre around to get in/out of the plane. Ryan had the solution - he sat on the floor with Sophia right next to the door. Problem solved... but that also meant that they were FIRST to jump!!!
When someone talks about skydiving, you will find that most people will say that the first rule is NEVER LOOK DOWN!!!
You can see that our daredevil Sophia obviously didn't get that memo (!) and was clearly admiring the view seconds before it became a reality!
When Dad asked her after the jump what was the best part? Her response was clearly the freefall, but the fact that she just felt SO FREE.
This was not the same for us parents who were waiting so anxiously on the ground, impatiently glancing into the blue sky to see the first parachute open. All of this anxiety, whilst staring at her wheelchair that was left vacant in front of us, a poignant and moving image that will stay with us for a long time. Nicky said that it was the very same feeling you have when your child is taken down for surgery, and you are left feeling utterly helpless, anxious and quite simply desperate...
It was a long wait as the plane was so high up (she had chosen to do the higher jump of 15,000 ft!) that we'd followed it all the way until it could no longer be seen in the air, too small for the human eye.
...and then we saw her
Sophia did the parachute jump to raise funds so that more families could have a week's break at The Knights Foundation Lodge. Thank you to each and every one of you who has donated, supported and followed Sophia's journey, it means the world to her, and will inevitably mean the world to those families who will be a able to take a much needed break away.
The full video is here -
With Sophia's own 'edited' version here -
Here's is Dad's interview with Sophia after her jump!
To donate to Sophia's fundraising, you can either text GOSOPHIA to 70085 to donate £10 (texts cost £10 plus one standard rate message)... or you can donate via her Just Giving page - https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/sophiabangerskydive