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United Nations International Day of Disabled Persons - World Record Sky Diving

  • Published: 2009-12-19 (Revised/Updated 2010-09-26) : Author: Team Independence
  • Synopsis: Three world records and the first disability sky diving team in world history.

Following on their world first North Pole summit, "Team Independence" of David Shannon and Christopher Watkins (both individuals living with disabilities) just returned from a world record sky dive outside of New Orleans, La. in Lumberton, Mississippi, in celebration of the United Nations International Day of Disabled Persons.

The sky dive will be facilitated by Incredible Adventures Inc. ( with whom Dave and Chris will Dream the Extreme. David Shannon became the first wheelchair user in history to perform such a high altitude HALO jump. The team, composed of David Shannon, Christopher Watkins, Jasmine Nyman, Darren Lillington, and Paul Brunette, accomplished three world records and became the first disability sky diving team in world history. Shannon and Watkins braved extreme cold, high altitude, the jet stream, several oxygen malfunctions and difficult landings with some injuries sustained by both.

At approximately 30,000 feet the dive represented a world record for a person with quadriplegia.

The purpose of the dive is to celebrate and publicize the advancements made for persons with a disability, including major human rights milestones such as the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act and the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Shannon and Watkins are both lawyers in Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada and each has a disability. Shannon has quadriplegia as the result of a spinal cord injury at age 18 and Watkins has a significant form of arthritis. They have embarked on other projects together including a trip to the North Pole in April 2009, supported by Darren Lillington, and a planned expedition to the South Pole in 2010.

The purpose of these extreme and hazardous expeditions is to engage all people in these exciting projects, and to demonstrate that there are no limits to the potential of the human spirit, regardless of any physical disability. David Shannon is carrying the Olympic Torch in Kingston, Ontario on Monday December 14, 2009.

Dave and Chris also deeply believe in the power of education to provide people with an opportunity to participate fully in their communities. Dave noted, "This is the greatest way to level the playing field for persons with a disability so that they can pursue all of their dreams, whether that is to get a job, join a club or enjoy travel". Therefore all proceeds raised by going to will be directed to a special scholarship fund for students with a disability.

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