Wednesday, 25 April 2018 05:06

Kandace Frye - "I Need To Get Out And Live"

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Kandace Frye Skydives Kandace Frye Skydives Image courtesy of Matt Harrelson

RAEFORD, NC - Kandace Frye was paralyzed in a January 2014 traffic accident. Before that she was a fitness instructor at FirstHealth Fitness-Richmond. Since then, she's been chasing adrenaline and living life to the fullest.

On Saturday, Frye, who is a membership representative for FirstHealth during her day job and daredevil away from work, went after the ultimate adrenaline rush when she and FirstHealth Fitness General Manager Jonathan Pope took to the air in Raeford for a skydiving day trip. 

Flying up 13,500 feet in a plane not much bigger than a Cessna, Frye, Pope and roughly 15 other high flyers did what most people don't do in a moving aircraft - jump out of it. 

"For me, it was an adrenaline rush," Frye said. "Initially jumping out of the plane, that was the adrenaline kicking in and then once the parachute had opened it was a peaceful moment. It was quiet up there. The biggest feeling that I got out of it was when I was up there in the air, it basically felt like I wasn't paralyzed anymore." 

Frye and Pope were paired up with experienced jumpers, but the single jumpers bailed out at around 8,000 feet. "We had to out-do them," Frye joked. 

Ever since her accident four years ago, Frye has lived by the motto, "Go big or go home." It's also been since that faithful day that she believes she got a second chance to live life to the fullest and to become the adrenaline junkie that she never was before. 

"It's about experiencing every part of life as possible," Pope said about his jumping mate. "Probably the best part about the whole experience wasn't necessarily the skydiving portion of it but was the anticipation leading up to it, and her friends and family being there to support her. Hearing her parents tell stories about how shy she was before her accident, which I can't even imagine because I didn't know her. It's hard for me to even imagine a different person. I only know this person. Just being a part of her jumping out of a plane, being able to witness it was special." 

Frye said it seemed like once they did the initial jump, she and her partner Robbie Rushton were free-falling for 60 seconds to the ground so it felt quick and like time stood still at the same time. 

"I was just in awe of everything," she said. "It was like you lost all your cares and all your worries went out the door. Ever since I got hurt I've always wanted to do stuff like this and more so now. One of the big things I use is I live life fearlessly." 

She went on to say that she wasn't nervous until they opened the door to the plane and she began to look down and realize how real the situation was. 

"I love that rush that I get when I do stuff. That changed because ever since I got hurt, I said, 'You know what? I got a second chance for a reason. I need to get out and live. Live life to the fullest.' That's one of the reasons why I wanted to do it." 

For Pope, his main reason for giving skydiving a go was simple: to be able to say he did it. He also jokingly said he has no intentions of ever doing it again. But the combination of his wanting to try it and Kandace asking him to participate was too good to pass up. 

"Kandace likes to have somebody there to share in her experiences, no matter how extreme they may be," said Pope. "Some people may be okay doing a 5K with her. Some people may be okay going skydiving with her. Fortunately, I was the one willing to do the actual skydiving with her. For Kandace, it's about life. It's about experiencing as much as possible and doing things that seem impossible." 

Frye was certainly up to the challenge on Saturday, donning her Superman shirt for the jump. Skydiving had always been something on her "bucket list," but she had never gathered up the nerves to do it. Now, she's ready to go again as soon as possible. 

In the meantime, Frye will be gearing up for her next adventure on May 20 when she'll be heading to the Z Max Dragway next to Charlotte Motor Speedway as a birthday present from her parents. There she'll be riding in a dragster car, going between 180 and 200 miles per hour down the track. 

She joked that she'll be able to compare skydiving to drag racing and see which one she likes best. 

Regardless, it seems like Frye just likes to go fast. However, it was the calmness of skydiving that she enjoyed the most. 

"I felt like I was walking and standing in the air. For me that was the feeling that I got," said Frye. "That's one of the biggest reasons that I want to do it again was because of that ultimate feeling that I got."

Last modified on Tuesday, 24 April 2018 23:51