Most people would be daunted by the thought of jumping from a helicopter into churning ocean waters. But not Jaeda, a 17-year-old girl who has battled cystic fibrosis since birth.
Jaeda actually wanted this experience. Her wish was to train to be a Coast Guard rescue swimmer.
With help from Make-A-Wish<sup>®</sup> Colorado, Jaeda spent two days with seasoned rescue swimmers, trained at the controls of a helicopter flight simulator and practiced rescue techniques in full Coast Guard gear. But the highlight of her experience came when she flew out in a helicopter for an actual rescue-swimmer training mission.
“It’s just so exciting – jumping out of a helicopter,” Jaeda said. “We had practiced being hooked up to the harness in the hangar earlier in the day, but I never could have imagined how exhilarating it actually was to be lowered out of a helicopter into the ocean.” To top off an amazing wish experience, the Coast Guard presented Jaeda with her own flight suit, a personalized name badge and rescue-swimmer gear. She even received an official title: Honorary Coast Guard Rescue Swimmer. Now, Jaeda is considering her future. “Maybe after I get my degree I’ll go into the Coast Guard to be a pilot,” she said. “This really has opened a lot of doors for me.”