Javier Ortiz ‘80, X-games competitor and now Skydive Orange weekend wing suit jumper, recently brought three of his high school classmates to tandem jump at Skydive Orange for the first time (he openly admits he owes a case of beer on this one). Javier started skydiving 24 years ago and fell in love with the sport, which became an integral part of his life. Once he discovered that over 400 of his former classmates would be in town for a weekend in July, he put out the offer to set up a skydiving experience with the top-notch tandem masters at Skydive Orange. Only three Madrid High School graduates took Javier up on his offer and spent the day at Skydive Orange: Pam Hillestad ‘80, Kennedy Menendez ‘81, and Marisa Quintanilla ‘81.
They were overwhelmed by their experience from the moment they stepped out of the car. Everyone at the jump site was amazingly positive, professional, and supportive of them. From their opening dialogues with instructors and staff to the final moments of watching their videos on the couch in the hanger, Pam, Kennedy, and Marisa were thrilled. The three wanted to jump in order to share in Javier’s love of the sport, but they each also had individual reasons. Marisa’s decision to jump was prompted in part by her retirement from serving 28 years in the U.S. Army. “I literally wanted to jump into retirement!” she said. Pam, a high school English teacher, wanted to model adventure-seeking behavior for her high school seniors, who have to complete an ‘adventure’ during their senior year. She can’t wait to show them her video in the fall. Kennedy chose to jump as she is determined at this juncture in her life to enjoy every moment that is available to her to the best of her ability.
All three agree that their day at Skydive Orange was an experience of a lifetime.
When they returned to the rest of their weekend reunion activities and everyone began asking them if they’d do it all over again, the reply was unanimous, “in a heartbeat.”
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