campaign to watch: jumping out of a plane for water.

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campaign: Stepping Out of a Plane
end date: finished campaign on June 30 — skydived July 21
campaign leaders: Jessie Stanbrook
campaign mission statement:
If not donating to provide clean water to those in need, donate to see my face as I jump out of a moving plane into nothing.

skydiving panels

Skydiving. Lots of people talk about it — but Jessie Stanbrook used her mycharity: water as an excuse to do it. Last month, she stepped out of a plane after reaching her goal of raising $1,000 for water projects. We tracked her down in Switzerland to find out why water is worth donning the parachute.

So you’re a traveler. Tell us about your latest:
I live in France now. I lived in Switzerland last summer, went to San Francisco for a couple of weeks to visit a friend, worked for three weeks in a law firm in the Caribbean. Then I came back to my new house in France for Christmas, went to New Zealand and on the way back I went to Singapore for a few days.

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So at what point in your grand adventure did you get involved with charity: water?
I was in New Zealand at the time and thinking, if there was anything I could do that people would actually care enough about to give money for, I’d do it. But I didn’t know if I was going to do skydiving. And I thought well, ‘If I do this with skydiving, I’ll have an incentive to do it, and also I’ll do a good thing by doing it, too.’ So I decided to make an account [campaign]. I didn’t think it would actually be successful. But I contacted pretty much everyone I know — and it was.

You wanted to help a charity… but why water?
It’s such an important thing. Obviously you can live without food for three weeks, but you can’t live without water for even a week. I went to South Africa on a school trip a couple years ago. We did some Habitat for Humanity work and a lot of the townships didn’t have clean water. And this was in South Africa which isn’t the most undeveloped country in the world. I decided then that I had to do something about it. As much as I could anyway.

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How did people react along the way? Where people back home surprised, impressed, inspired?
I think most people would just say they saw the campaign and they were like, “Ahh! Wow!” That’s what I think most people do. Not a lot of my friends actually donated. It was more friends’ mums and friends’ dads and work colleagues of my dad. I guess that makes sense. They were quite happy to donate. I got a few unexpected large donations from people I wasn’t particularly close to. So it was quite good.

So tell us about the fun part — skydiving. Reaching your goal on mycharity: water kind of forced you to go?
That was half of it. I didn’t know when I was going to do it, so I decided to kill two birds with one stone: raise money and also actually do it. Because I couldn’t really turn back if I’d raised the money.

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What was it like?
I did a bungee jump in New Zealand; that was the single most terrifying moment of my entire life. I hated every moment of it. I thought the skydiving would be worse because it’s basically jumping out of a moving plane to fall from 12,000 feet up. So when we got up to the very top, they opened the door and I got really scared. I didn’t know if I could do it. But you’re strapped to a person, and they fall out for you. You don’t have to do anything. So I couldn’t really have said ‘no’ at that point. And… I loved it. I wanted to do it again after. It was really good fun, went so quickly.

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What was going through your head when you’re falling thousands and thousands of feet? Not your charity: water campaign…
Not a whole lot actually. It’s a crazy experience. It feels like it’s five seconds, and that’s apparently because your brain literally cannot handle the whole experience you’re having. You’re falling at over 200 kilometers and hour. It’s pretty fast, but you don’t feel that. You’re almost being held up by the air because you’re falling so fast. And so, I don’t know. I don’t think I could process anything while I was falling. And then of course they pull the parachute and then you’re having a nice flight down. And then you can process some thoughts again and think, “Oh, it’s quite nice, actually.”

Do you have any more plans for cheating death and raising money for charity: water at the same time?
I was actually trying to think about that! I’m going to have to come up with another cunning plan. Hopefully if I can find something else really crazy to do, I can bring myself to do it.

Thanks to Nick Michael for helping us gather this story. See some of Nick’s work here.

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