110 W. New York Ave.
DeLand, FL 32720
posted Dec 20, 2012 - 3:30:27pm
It’s 11:15 on a brisk Saturday morning at Skydive DeLand. Don Sugg dons his jumpsuit and helmet, and prepares to board an aircraft. He’ll take a charity skydive from nearly three miles straight up, and land in a 20-foot-wide sand-filled circle.
Yes, that’s a pretty remarkable feat for a man in his 20s, 30s, or even his 50s, but Sugg is 98 years old! His parting words to admirers on the ground: “If you don’t mind, I’ll be dropping in on you in a short time.”
Sugg is dedicating this Dec. 15 dive to his longtime friend Ethel Crowder, who passed away with Alzheimer’s disease eight years ago. Ethel’s daughters Joanne Brown and Elaine Holbrook are present to cheer Sugg on.
The loss of his two sisters to the same insidious disease is also a prime motivator for Sugg. Always a man seeking vigorous challenges and adventure, he found new inspiration during the
His tireless charity fundraising has included a radio-network appeal, a bowling tournament at Sunshine Lanes in DeLand, and an Alzheimer’s walk at Stetson University, all within the past 12 months. It’s no wonder he was appointed to the position of “Alzheimer’s Hero” as part of the first All World Alzheimer’s Day in 2011.
It’s now 11:30 a.m. at Skydive DeLand on the DeLand Municipal Airport. A PAL 750 single-turbine engine plane lifts off with Sugg and 13 other divers aboard. It takes a good 15 minutes for the plane to make long, lazy, ascending circles to reach the jump altitude of 14,000 feet.
At 11:45, they’re out the door! The free-fall portion of the skydive lasts only 60 seconds, and covers a whistling 10,000 feet.
“It’s a rush, that’s for sure,” Sugg will say, once he’s back on the ground.
For this skydive, Sugg is strapped to his longtime tandem-skydiving partner, Pine Pienaar, Skydive DeLand’s sales manager. Their chute — designed to carry two people — opens. They now have five minutes to take in some great panoramic views: the Atlantic shoreline, Ormond Beach, Daytona Beach, DeLand, DeBary and DeLeon Springs, and the area’s lakes, rivers and roads.
Sugg’s supporters start shouting, “There they are!” (He told them to look for his distinctive striped chute.)
It’s now 11:50, and Pienaar and Sugg have a smooth touchdown in the sand. Thus concludes Sugg’s latest jump with Pine; they’ve made about a dozen together.
Sugg has completed another skirmish in his fight against Alzheimer’s. His supporters on the Skydive DeLand observation deck have been generous with their contributions.
If you missed Sugg’s skydive but want to help his cause, donations by check, payable to “Alzheimer’s Association,” may be mailed to Donald E. Sugg, 113 W. Chipola Ave., Apt. 1006, DeLand, FL 32720.
You may also make reservations to duplicate Don’s airborne experience by calling Skydive DeLand at 386-738-3539, or by dropping by 1600 Flightline Blvd. at the DeLand airport. They have world-class instructors who can set you up with a tandem dive or even advanced classes to qualify you as an independent skydiver.
The comments posted below are posted by readers, not by The Beacon staff. These comments express the views and opinions of the authors, and not the administrators, moderators or webmaster. The comments forum is governed by these rules. Please use the report abuse link if you find offensive comments.
Did you find this story interesting or informative? Subscribe to The West Volusia Beacon to read more stories by Brian Meddaugh, along with others from our award-winning writers. Subscribe now!