Ardee man takes part in parachute jump to raise money for charity

Colman Clerkin was among 39 brave fundraisers who plummeted from 10,000 feet to raise money to help battle a rare genetic condition.

Colman Clerkin was among 39 brave fundraisers who plummeted from 10,000 feet to raise money to help battle a rare genetic condition.

Colman Clerkin suffers from Friedreichs Ataxia, a rare genetic disorder that affects balance and co-ordination.

Speaking to the Dundalk Democrat, Colman said: “I was one of the 39 jumpers from Ireland that took part in the charity jump.”

Between them they raised a whoping e18,000.

“We had to raise 300 euro first to do the parachute jump, the day was booked last September by one our members, Kate O Kelly from Co. Cork. It was something that the members wanted to do and help the FASI organisation.”

“They are a great organisation based in Stilorgan, Dublin.

They group parachuted from Killkenny airport on Saturday afternoon.

“We arrived at Kilkenny airport at 9am. It was a beautiful morning and there was a great crowd gathering to give us support.

“I was a bit nervous though I did my best to calmly mingle with everyone. We were jumping from 10,000ft, which I thought would be a piece of cake.”

Colman was the only jumper from Louth, with most hailing from Cork.

“I remember saying to my doctor the day before, if my parachute doesn’t open, I know who to blame.

“At 11am my name was called. I was clapped in by the big crowd that was there. I met Peter my tandem jumper, he was so nice. We talked about farming, he had no idea about farming but he seemed genuinely interested. He was jumping for the last 20 years so I knew I was in safe hands. He strapped me up and I listened to his instructions, we posed for the camera and waited for the plane to arrive.

“I could hear the plane coming in for us, then it was time to go. When I got onboard I just kept thinking how the hell are we goin to get out of here!”

The plane then took Colman and his tandem jumper to 10,000ft.

“My instructer kept saying you will be fine, then the engines were cut back, and the we door was opened. I put my legs out the door and took the correct position, I remember my tandem jumper saying 3,2,1. I remember looking down and then we jumped out of the plane. We freefell for about 15 seconds, but it seemed like forever!”

Unfortunately all the tumbling through the sky got the better of Colman, who began vomiting.

“I got sick and I knew my tandem jumper Paul was getting the brunt of it. I must have got sick four or four times up there.

After falling for 15 seconds the parachute kicking in and minutes later Colman was back on terra firma.

“I just about managed to get in the right position and we landed safely. I was so sick I couldn’t move, I remember being so weak and continued geting sick on the ground.”

“It took me a couple of hours to get back to the land of the living. It was some experience, I got my certificate that evening, the jumps went on till 9pm that night, the whole gang met up that evening, but I was still under the weather so I couldn’t attend.”

Friedreichs Ataxia is a genetic and progressive disorder of the central nervous system which usually manifests itself in children between the ages of six and sixteen years.

However, in some instances the onset for Friedreichs and other Genetic Ataxias can be much later.

Because of the genetic factor more than one person in a family may be affected.