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    Posted October 22, 2013 by
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    First Paraplegic to Compete at a World Skydiving Competition

     

    CNN PRODUCER NOTE     When Jarrett Martin was just 18 years old when a BASE jumping accident halted his budding skydiving career. Martin, a third-generation skydiver, was paralyzed from the chest down. Yet, he dreamed of getting back into skydiving.

    In 2011, Martin returned to the sport and became the first paraplegic skydiver to participate in a world competition, according to James Hayhurst, director of competition for the U.S. Parachuting Association.

    “Jarrett is a competent skydiver, a capable accuracy pilot (the event he will be competing in) and best of all, a genuine, winsome young man,” Hayhurst said. “And he has the drive and guts to match. … Jarrett Martin is the real deal.”

    Martin’s story first came to iReport via Carrie Transue, the owner of a PR/marketing firm that is spreading the word about Jarrett’s documentary “Sky High,” which was released last year. Transue has gotten to know Martin, now 22, while working with him for the past year.

    “I've known Jarrett for about a year now and every time I see an update from him, he's trying something new,” she said. “I've jumped with him and seen his determination firsthand. I work with competitive skydivers every day and when I saw he had qualified for the world championships, I had to help spread his story. While many paraplegics still jump, few keep going with their original goals like Jarrett.”

    The first video shows Martin skydiving in 2011, and the second video is one that Martin took himself while BASE jumping on Bridge Day in West Virginia on the weekend of October 19.
    - zdan, CNN iReport producer

    If you are lucky, you will experience a moment, person or event that is “life changing”. The phrase evokes a sense of hope and inspiration that can be hard to hold on to, but for friends, family and fans of Jarrett Martin, the inspiration comes in waves on a daily basis.
     
    Continuing a journey briefly interrupted by fate, Jarrett Martin, 22, is trailblazing his way through the skydiving world and racking a list of firsts for a paraplegic. His latest victory, an invitation to compete at the Dubai International Parachuting Competition (December, 2013) and the World Parachuting Championship in Banja Luka next year will make him the 1st paraplegic skydiver to compete in an International FAI event.
     
    As a 3rd generation skydiver, Martin was around skydiving his entire life and began jumping and piloting at a young age. He never had a doubt that his career would include flying and skydiving, including being active in competitive skydiving. Losing the use of his legs at only 18 never hindered that goal. Injured 3 years ago following a BASE jump malfunction, Martin wasted no time getting back in the air and began jumping only 6 months after his accident.
     
    One person touched by 22 year old Jarrett was Macaela Vandermost, the Creative Director and Founder of Newfangled Studios, a boutique video production company. Macaela and her team produced a full length documentary about Jarrett and his struggles as a paraplegic skydiver for the film, Sky High.
     
    “Meeting Jarrett was a life changing experience for me,” Macaela shared. “At the time, he and my sister were college roommates and I was spending the weekend with her. She had told me about Jarrett, but I was blown away when I met him. Something in me really wanted to tell his story”.
     
    A few months after first meeting Jarrett, the urge to tell his story had stayed with Macaela and she knew she had to act.
     
    “I thought, if this kid had such an effect on me in a matter of a weekend, what could his story do to inspire people all over the world?” Macaela continued, “And so, Sky High was born.”
     
    In Sky High, Macaela and her team followed Jarrett through his journey to be the first paraplegic to compete at the USPA National Skydiving Championships in 2011. Throughout the film, viewers learn about the accident that resulted in Jarrett being paralyzed from the chest down and continues as he follows his passion to regain a life and future that many said was gone forever.
     
    In Sky High, Jarrett as he pilots his first flight since the accident, trains through the challenge of not being able to control where and how his body moves or lands; and, perhaps most moving, when Jarrett attempts his first BASE jump since his accident (the jump that led to his paralysis was a BASE jump).
     
    Following Jarrett through Macaela's lens, you feel the conflict of excitement and fear as Jarrett refuses to let his paralysis stop him from his dreams.
     
    “Being around it all my life and then jumping when I was young seemed very natural to me,” Jarrett says. “I became a professional skydiver and pilot at a young age and was looking forward to creating a name for myself. I love to share my passion with others through training and instruction and I love competing”.
     
    The risks involved with participating in a sport like skydiving aren’t lost on those who participate, and many skydivers can name at least a friend-of-a-friend who has lost their life or use of limbs from jumping. Even seeing paraplegic skydivers isn’t necessarily uncommon. But, seeing what Jarrett has accomplished is truly like no other.
     
    'While I can't do a lot of things the way I used to, I still do all the things I love," Jarrett passionately shares. He spends a lot of his time now working with other paraplegics and teaching them to skydive and has helped many earn their skydiving licenses.

     

    This weekend, Jarrett was among hundreds who participated in Bridge Day in West Virginia, where he completed 3 BASE jumps.

     

    In 2011, Martin became the first paraplegic skydiver to compete in the US Nationals competition and has returned the last two years. Although not having the use of his legs introduces increased difficulty in scoring, Jarrett continually strives to perfect his Accuracy landings and speed for the style routines through practice, trial and error and experimenting with adaptive equipment to even the playing field with his competitors. His strategies and experimental nature is paying off as he continually improves his control over his landings and, ultimately, his scores.
     
    Martin earned his position on the US World team as the 1st ever Junior competitor, opening the door for other junior competitors in future events. His selection to join the team as a junior competitor was made by the USPA following his performance at the 2011-2013 USPA National Skydiving Championships.
     
    Being competitive is important to Jarrett as he continues the skydiving career he began at 16, but pushing himself to do more and show that he is not held back by his handicap, led him to complete the first paraplegic pond swoop, the first paraplegic wingsuit jump and he is a regular BASE jumper.
     
    A true inspiration, Jarrett dedicates a lot of his time to working with other disabled athletes to show them that the thrill and peace from flying through the air isn’t out of reach for anyone and has instructed six disabled athletes to obtain their skydiving license.
     
    Meanwhile, Jarrett’s story continues to spread and his inspirational spirit is infectious. “There’s really no reason not to go full speed ahead into your passions. If Jarrett Martin can jump off a bridge without the use of his legs, everyone should always continue to chase their dreams, Macaela shares.
     
    Sky High was chosen for the Boston International Film Festival earlier this year where the film earned the Indie Spec Special Recognition Award. Originally scheduled for a showing in April, the screening was cancelled after the Boston Marathon Bombings. The film is now set for a showing at the F/local Visual Arts Screening Series on November 7 in Boston at The Center for Arts at the Armory.
     
    For those outside of Boston or who can’t wait for November, the film is also now available for rent or purchase on Vimeo at http://www.vimeo.com/ondemand/skyhigh.

     

    Friends and family are currently raising money through Fundly to help with travel costs and expenses for Jarrett to attend these events. To contribute, please go to:

     

    https://fundly.com/coverage-of-jarrett-martin-at-dubai-international-parachuting-championship#_

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