The tonto Boogie Raises the Sky for charity with ChutingStar

Johannesburg Skydiving Club, November 9-11, 2013tonto-boogie-2013-food-delivery-thumb
The skies over South Africa were full of smiling skydivers last weekend. Two planes were flying for three days, a PAC and an “Atlas Angel” (a single-prop plane with origins in the South African military). Scott Plamer and Paul Ferriman came out to fly fast and steep with the freeflyers, and Lawrence de Laubadere and I, along with local organizer Oliver Nothen, kept the wingsuiters busy with formations, vertical stacks, and docked dives. Belly flyers did some 2-plane formations, rare in this part of the world, with some very happy campers achieving the 16-ways required for a PASA D-license.
The other important aspect to the weekend was a fundraiser for the Pastoral Centre Preschool located in an informal settlement in Kliptown, Soweto. Raise the Sky has supported this organization for the past few years. My personal involvement goes back more than ten years as a volunteer. The preschool has 250 students ranging in age from one to 6 years old. All live in shacks nearby with no electricity or running water, and many have lost one or both parents to the HIV/AIDS epidemic. I am proud to say that with the help of generous support from ChutingStar, including a $100 gift certificate, a helmet bag, Starlog logbook, and goody bags with stickers and pull-up cords for our charity raffle, we were able to raise the equivalent of about $1,000, which in local terms will go a long way. Mirage donated a 30% coupon, Squirrel Wingsuits donated 50% off a brand new Swift wingsuit, and Performance Designs contributed a $50 gift certificate. Other prizes included a free skydive and a reserve repack, and various T-shirts and other awesome schwag. Boogie T-shirt sales with a gorgeous design from Nadene Elaine of Adventure Creative topped off the fundraising drive. We delivered a carload of food and donated clothing items, along with a card announcing our financial donation, on Monday right after the boogie. The teachers were overjoyed, and the kids enjoyed their first healthy snack of apples in quite a long time! In partnership with the Johannesburg Skydiving Club and Raise the Sky, I organized the first tonto Boogie in 2008 to celebrate the life of Eric “tonto” Stephenson, the man with whom I shared my life for nearly 6 years. He passed away in a high-performance landing incident on October 28th, 2007, leaving a legacy of 5,314 skydives, a club he helped to found and grow, and numerous AFF students who are now some of South Africa's best competitive jumpers. The boogie started out as a way to remember, but six years later it has become so much more. A big thank you to everyone who made the weekend possible, especially ChutingStar, a rockstar of a sponsor.

Taya Weiss