VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - Many front line workers are putting their lives on the line every day in the fight against coronavirus. All Veteran Group and Window World teamed up to show their appreciation in a big way – by taking our local heroes skydiving Saturday afternoon.
Among the fearless group of veterans and active military were four front line workers who were nominated by their peers to make the big jump for the first time.
Four winners were chosen out of 50 nominees: Melanie Ostrum, a Virginia Beach EMT; Jeff Wright, a Newport News Master Police K9 Officer; Brenda Lamb, a Bayside High School Special Ed teacher with Virginia Beach Public Schools; and Dr. Ned Inayet, a pulmonary critical care physician at Sentara.
Dr. Inayet has been caring for COVID-19 patients inside his ICU since the start of the pandemic.
“Unfortunately, the first COVID death in Virginia happened under my care at Sentara Williamsburg Hospital,” said Inayet. “We’ve seen a lot of deaths occur, a lot of illness.”
Saturday was a chance to forget about the toll of the pandemic and skydive.
“I’m going to have fun,” Inayet said. “Getting nominated is quite an honor. Thrill of a lifetime I think for me.”
All Veteran Group and Window World teamed up to make this jump possible. Window World Owner Josh Reed said they wanted to give back to their community.
“We wanted to recognize our veterans but also to honor all of the local front line people who have really been keeping us safe and taking care of us, especially during this really challenging last several months and giving them something fun to do and remember 2020 by,” said Reed.
All Veteran Group President & Founder Mike Elliott led his skilled parachute team, who are all veterans and active military members.
Making more than 15,000 jumps, three of them in tandem with the late President George H.W. Bush to celebrate his birthday, Elliott made sure the four front line workers were in good hands and were having fun.
“The world has been locked up and with all the stuff that’s going on,” Elliott said. “To be able to go out and say, 'Thank you' to those healthcare workers that are always working 24-7 because we don’t get a chance to see what they’re doing.”
The jumpers geared up.
The plane was supplied by Skydive Suffolk Owner Laura Manthey. When the Super Caravan plane landed, the group boarded, and it was ready for takeoff.
At 12,000 feet in the air, Dr. Inayet and the others took the leap, and for a brief moment they were flying.
All jumpers stuck the landing and felt the rush.
“It’s definitely a rush of energy,” said Virginia Beach EMT Melanie Ostrum. “It was beautiful up there; felt like you could see the whole world.”
Dr. Inayet said the skydiving experience was indescribable.
“That was amazing,” he said. “The greatest exhilaration I’ve felt, especially the first hundred feet freefall drop. Amazing. I’m coming back here tomorrow to do it again.”
Our hometown heroes make sacrifices every day by working on the front lines in the fight against coronavirus.