Soon after a spinal cord injury many of us start getting that sneaking suspicion that we’re missing out on life. Whether it’s an event we can’t attend because of inaccessibility, or an activity we can’t do because of our paralysis, they begin to stack up. Joanna Bonilla, a 34 year old woman who was paralyzed by Lupus, was able to put a temporary halt to that growing list – if just for one night – when she attended last month’s SPINALpedia’s Adaptive Indoor Skydiving Event at iFLY in Loudon, Virginia
“I was excited because I was finally able to do something on my bucket list because the dare devil in me was like ‘FINALLY!, I did something I wanted to do before my injury.'” From Springfield, Virginia, Joanna signed up for our event when she saw our online flier.
She missed her old adventurous life pre-paralysis. “Before I was VERY I was always looking something fun while on vacation. I had never done skydiving before but it was on my bucket list. And the entire at iFLY met her expectations and then some. “The experience made me feel FREE and even more confident that I can do anything. At first, I didn’t know what to expect from the whole.”
“As I looked at other fliers, I was nervous and excited. Nervous please I didn’t want to get hurt, I didn’t want to chicken out and what if I get sick. And I was excited because I was finally able to do something on my bucket list. Excited because the dare-devil in me was like FINALLY! Finally, that I to do something I wanted to do before my injury.”
The psychological benefits of the wind tunnel in particular, which makes the indoor skydiving experience possible, were especially awesome to Joanna. “After I got over the shock feeling and I took in a deep breathe. I was able to relax and loved the feeling of feeling FREE. I was allowed to have FUN and let go. In my wheelchair, I over analyze everything (“Can I get in that way?,” “Is it wheelchair friendly?,” “Will I be able to do this?”).
She credits her dedicated workout regimen for her smooth sailing in the indoor skies. “My life started to turn around with I started to become physically active. That happened 3 years ago when I met Devon Palermo, Founder of DPI Adaptive Gym. I loved going to the gym before my injury. It’s hard going to a regular gym because it feels as if everyone is seeing how you will work out.”
“At DPI, I was able to get my confidence back little by little. I am now stronger than I’ve ever been. I was able to do IFLY and every other adaptive activity because of DPI.
She also tried rock climbing and adaptive skiing in Colorado since becoming injured, but this Joanna is in love with how easy it was to get in some indoor skydiving in her own hometown.