The first time Rathfriland woman Sharon O’Reilly is ever in an aeroplane, she will be jumping out of it.
It will be all for a good cause, though, as Sharon, who now lives in Banbridge, and turns 40 this year, will be taking part in a Tandem Skydive in April to raise money for Autism NI.
So determined is Sharon to complete the jump that she also plans to lose a staggering three stones too.
When she come up with the Tandem Skydive idea she contacted Moonjumpers International Sky Centre in Coleraine last year and was told she would have to lose weight as there is a weight restriction of 13 stone.
Sharon joined Training for Warriors Gym in Banbridge and has to date lost one and a half stone and has even got some of the members to go on the Skydive too.
“Everyone in the gym thought I was absolutely mad,” she joked. “A skydive is something I have always wanted to do. I have never been on an aeroplane in my life and I don’t even own a passport. I don’t do things in half measures. People have asked me will I not just lose my nerve, when I am up there, but I have nothing to compare it to.
“But I am determined not only to lose the weight but to complete the jump and to try and raise as much money as I possibly can, for Autism NI.
“After seeing my determination, the others in the gym decided they would show support and join me in the Skydive. We now have 12 members who are completing the Skydive for Charity. My eldest daughter who is 21 is even going to do the jump too.”
She went on: “I chose Autism NI as my daughter is currently being assessed for Autistic Spectrum Disorder and I know first-hand the difficulty local families’ face.
“I feel that any help we can give them to raise awareness can only be of benefit to the families having to cope with ASD on a daily basis. Autism NI is a local charity and any money we raise will stay right here in Northern Ireland and help local families.”
In order to complete the Skydive each person has a minimum amount of £380 each to raise via sponsorships.
Sharon has well and truly caught the flying bug, as she plans to go on an aeroplane again, to to on a well deserved holiday in the sun later this year.
One of the fundraising events Sharon has organised, is a Wild West Themed Costume Party at the Bannville House Hotel, in Banbridge on April 1. Among the highlights on the night are Justin McGurk and the Bogeymen and Fiddler Adam. Tickets cost £10.