Richmond woman Ciara Halkett went to great heights on April 1 to increase awareness and raise funds toward epilepsy.
Leaping from a Pilatus Porter, 16,500 feet above Motueka at Skydive Abel Tasman, Ciara was joined by seven others taking part in her and her mother’s initiative, ‘Jump for John’.
John is Ciara’s big brother who passed away in their native Ireland, July 2017, after suffering a major epileptic fit in his sleep.
“It was very sudden and very unexpected,” says Ciara.
Scarring from an operation to remove a brain tumour that John developed as a child resulted in epilepsy for the once “bubbly and out-going” Irish-man.
As John’s age increased so to did the epileptic fits, and his medication caused such a change in his personality that he opted to discontinue their use in the time leading up to his death.
The siblings last got together in January 2017 for Ciara’s New Zealand wedding at Nelson’s Founders Park. It would be the family’s final big gathering before John’s tragic passing that July.
“Since John had done and really loved a couple of skydives in the past, we decided to skydive in his honour and raise money toward epilepsy at the same time,” says Ciara.
Joined by 32 other jumpers in New Zealand, Australia and Ireland, the date of April 1 was decided.
“We were going to do it on his birthday of April 3 but because he was a bit of a joker we went for the first,” says Ciara.
Surprised by her lack of nerves, Ciara says the skydive was “amazing, it’s the best thing I’ve ever done”.
To date the group has raised over $20,000.

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