Village of Williston Park Mayor Paul Ehrbar had the experience of a lifetime jumping out of a plane last Saturday morning for a life-saving cause.
Ehrbar made the parachute jump – his first ever – at Calverton Airport on Sept. 22 to raise money for Gift of Life Inc., a project of Rotary International District 7250 which brings children to the U.S. for life-saving surgery.
“It was thrilling and exciting. I thank the Rotary for the experience,” Ehrbar said. “Apart from the experience, I’m glad I was able to raise $1,500. I’m thankful for the people who contributed.”
The parachute jumpers solicit contributions from sponsors to raise the money. The Rotary Clubs of District 7250, including the Williston Park Rotary, pool funds to pay for the heart surgeries performed at St, Francis Hospital, The Cohen Children’s Center at North Shore-LIJ and Montefiore Hospital in the Bronx.
Ehrbar, 64, said he had an amazing view during what seemed like a long ride down after he leaped out of the plane doorway. He kept his eyes on the horizon, as he was instructed to do, and never looked down.
“You can see the whole island from up there,” he said. “I still don’t know how long it was. Actually coming down it was a nice ride.”
Once he was on the ground, he said the experience seemed to have gone by too quickly.
First, Ehrbar said, he watched an instructional videotape with some of the 30 other people jumping for the Rotary that day. An instructor provided additional instructions.
He said after the plane took off, he was strapped to an instructor who jumped with him, then just stood in the doorway and made his leap of faith.
“I tried not to think about it so I wouldn’t be nervous. You’re just going for the ride actually,” Ehrbar said.
Ehrbar was actually pinch-jumping for former Williston Park Village Justice Alan Reardon, who was originally going to make the fundraising parachute jump.
But the date for the jump changed and he was unavailable on the new date. He told Ehrbar about the schedule change and the mayor agreed to take his place.
Ehrbar said he very nearly took a parachute jump with his wife, Doreen, when they were younger. But she became pregnant, so they decided against doing it.
But it’s remained on Ehrbar’s wish list ever since and he’s ready to take a second tumble.
“I would have no problems doing it again,” Ehrbar said. “It’s a great cause. I was glad I was able to do it for them.”