Jumping out of a plane with a stranger is something 45-year-old Maureen Moore never imagined, but when a friend asked her she couldn’t say no.
Maureen, from Ballykelly, recently raisedclose to £1,500 for the Northern Ireland Chest Heart and Stroke Association.
“My friend (and husband’s cousin) Sharon O’Hara, whom I had known since she was a little girl, developed Hodgkin Lymphoma when she was 18 years old. At the time, when undergoing treatment, she started to lose her hair, and I remember wanting to shave mine to let her know she wasn’t alone but I didn’t have the nerve to go through with it. She was so sick and so very brave and, thankfully, came through the treatment successfully, however I felt that I had let her down. “
However, a decade later and Maureen said Sharon wanted to give somehting back to those who had help her when she needed it.
“Sharon had decided to not only raise funds, but to challenge herself too. Sharon chosen charity was The Sperrin Room in Altnagelvin Hospital. She had asked several people, including me, to accompany her, but everyone had turned her down. I should add that Sharon is one of the most sincere and generous people I have the pleasure of knowing; a very special friend!
“So, when Sharon asked me a second time during a family wedding, I realised she was serious and, remembering my feelings of helplessness from before, I heard myself saying yes; I would not let her go through this on her own. I did have one condition though, and if she didn’t mind, I would raise funds for the NI Chest Heart and Stroke Association (NICHS). I explained that if I, at 45 years old, was going to throw myself out of a plane, it was going to be something personal to me! She agreed and we booked it right away; all expenses paid out of our own pocket, so all monies raised would go directly to the charities.”
Maureen explained why she chose NICHS after the deaths of her dear father Albert Maxwell (70) in September 1993, her sister Dorothy (33) in March 2000 and her eldest brother Howard (54) in April 2013.
“I had always wanted to do something to mark my dad’s passing and then in turn, my sister (she had special needs) in a fitting manner, but having a young family, the time and opportunity never really appeared. When my brother passed, these feelings re-ignited,” she explained. “Sharon inspired me to challenge myself into doing something I had talked about doing in my youth; a skydive. My family thought I was having a wee mid-life crisis.
“To say it was one of the most exhilarating things I have ever experienced is an understatement.”
Sharon believes her father and siblings would “be proud of her” and “for showing them I am living life to the fullest; challenging myself and being thankful that I am healthy enough to complete it because no one knows what lies ahead. Whilst visiting my brother in hospital, he mentioned plans he had for his future which involved travelling and he didn’t get that opportunity. Their lives were cut short and to honour them, I believe, I’m going to make my time count; hopefully in a positive way.”
The final total raised for NICHS was £1301.37 and Sharon raised £1,400 for the Sperrin Room.Maureen thanked everyone for their support and the “fabulous instructors”.