Anyone might be daunted by jumping from a helicopter into churning ocean waters – especially anyone who’s acquainted with unpredictable health and the fragility of life. But it didn’t faze Jaeda.
Diagnosed with a life-threatening respiratory condition at birth, 18-year-old Jaeda is still trying to figure out what she wants to be when she grows up. For a while, she’d settled on being an astronaut. But thanks to Make-A-Wish® and the U.S. Coast Guard, those plans may be changing. Her wish to be a Coast Guard rescue swimmer was coming true.
She reports to the Aviation Training Center Mobile in Alabama and spends two days with seasoned rescue swimmers. Jaeda trains at the controls of a helicopter flight simulator and practices rescue techniques in full Coast Guard gear.
But the highlight of her experience comes when she flies out in a helicopter for an actual rescue-swimmer training mission.
“It’s just so exciting – jumping out of a helicopter,” Jaeda says. “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 presents Jaeda with a flight suit, a personalized name badge and rescue-swimmer gear. She even receives an official title: Honorary Coast Guard Rescue Swimmer.