Above: Photo by Mark Kirschenbaum/Hypoxic
On July 2, three neighboring California drop zones—GoJump Oceanside, Skydive Elsinore and Skydive Perris—threw a joint event to honor and support Becca Farewell, a person who is special to all of them. Farewell, who has 11-plus years in the sport and around 7,000 jumps, was an AFF and tandem instructor who split her time working at the three Southern California DZs. In July 2021, while in Utah, Farewell had a landing accident that broke her C3 and C4 vertebrae, which left her without movement below the shoulders and necessitated the use of a ventilator. The skydiving community immediately came together to support her and continues to do so to this day.
Although the Becca Boogie took place at Skydive Perris, all three DZs promoted the event by cross-posting about it on social media, encouraging their regular jumpers to attend and generously donating jump-ticket packages as auction and raffle prizes. Skydive Elsinore, which is only about 10 miles from Perris by plane, even flew a load over to jump into the event. Of course, Perris welcomed everyone with open arms.
Photo by Dennis Sattler.
Since her spinal cord injury, Farewell has taken advantage of technology to stay active and engaged. She has a 4D motorized wheelchair that she controls with her chin. She can move forward or backward at 5 mph, rotate the chair 360 degrees, pitch it forward or backward to provide comfort and aid with circulation and elevate the seat to put her at eye level with people who are standing. She has full use of her smart phone with voice controls. She has gone skiing and sailing with Trails Adaptive, a program of the Craig H. Neilsen Rehabilitation Hospital at University of Utah Health, which provides year-round activities to help those with traumatic injuries maximize physical and mental health. And she even does “stand-up” comedy, which is ironic as it gets!
In large part due to the resources available to her in Utah, Farewell has made it her home base. She and her family made the two-day, 18-hour drive to Southern California for the boogie, a considerable effort but well worth it. More than 200 people registered for the event and were excited to hang out with Farewell at the drop zone again. Among the attendees were Amy Chmelecki and Allison Reay of the Highlight Pro Skydiving Team, a project of the Women’s Skydiving Network. Farewell worked with the WSN on a ratings scholarship program, so the demo jumps by Highlight were a particularly meaningful part of the event.
Dan Brodsky-Chenfeld, Marie Clark, Nico Giraldo, Jazmyn Kahler, Courtney Moore and Seth Robison provided load organizing during the boogie, and Farewell enjoyed watching everyone’s landings during the day, despite the 100-degree heat. The evening activities included a barbecue dinner and party, and Farewell—at her most healthy and physically stable point since her accident—did not let using a ventilator and having quadriplegia keep her from dancing the night away. She was shoulder jamming to DJ Moo Tang on the dance floor for more than two hours at the end of the night.
Photo by Dennis Sattler.
The success of The Becca Boogie was due to a collaboration of many. In addition to her friends’ and the drop zones’ support, Cookie Helmets, Expanding Horizons Rigging Loft, Flight-1, Golden State Gear, Hypoxic, iFly Oceanside, Larsen & Brusgaard, Performance Designs, United Parachute Technologies and USPACourses made generous donations. Although the main objective of the event was to have a party and celebrate Farewell, it also raised more than $53,000 to help Farewell with her numerous expenses as she continues rehabilitation.
Readers can connect with Farewell directly through her website, teambecca.us.
Back in the Air!
Just days after the boogie, Becca Farewell enlisted her Southern California friends to see whether it was possible to get her knees in the breeze. The biggest barrier was not the quadriplegia but the time off the ventilator (which she had done for periods of time at home but not in a tight tandem harness in the air). Unsurprisingly, she felt she was up for the challenge.
The first step was a trip to iFly Oceanside, where tunnel instructors Hunter Vargo (one of Farewell’s former students) and Ryan Grebb helped her make a trial run. After a successful trial, it was back to Skydive Perris, where tandem instructor Kibang Lee helped Farewell get back in the air with friends Jeanine Bonvin, Dan Brodsky-Chenfeld, Christian Cody, Veronica Giraldo, David Schraeger, Scott Smith, Sam Styles, Rick Winkler and videographers Josh Colby and Devrey LaRiccia. Angie Aragon and D.J. Styles provided ground support for Farewell’s jump, which is sure to be the first of many more!
Photo by Josh Colby.
About the Author
Angie Aragon, D-30898, is the newest member of the USPA Board of Directors. She is an AFF, Tandem and Coach Examiner who travels to drop zones around the U.S. and world teaching rating courses. She was the lead organizer of the Becca Boogie.