90-year-old Michiana woman goes skydiving for the first time

Published: Oct. 9, 2017 at 12:25 AM EDT
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It's always been a dream for 90-year-old Mary Velleman to go skydiving. On Sunday, her wish came true in celebration of her 90th birthday.

"We always went to Florida in the wintertime and we were only about two miles from a little airport where we watched them and I always wanted to do it, but my husband wouldn't let me," Mary said. "Too dangerous, he wouldn't let me do it, so he's not here anymore so it's full speed ahead."

Mary wasn't sure she would ever get the chance.

"Well I didn't think I'd ever get to do it, but when the kids asked me last summer a year ago now what I wanted to do I said 'well I want to skydive' and they all about fell off their chairs," she said. "I kept it a secret until then."

The plan was to jump on Friday, but the rainy weather put those plans on hold.

"I had lots of friends that were going to come so I don't know how many of them are going to come now since the time was changed," Mary said.

That didn't bring down her spirit. Mary went through a short instruction course on how to position her body as she jumped. She was never nervous.

"I'm fine," she said. "I've been looking forward to this for a long time so I'm over any jitters."

Mary got to jump with instructor Tom and her grandson, Paul Velleman.

"Not too many people can say that, so it's very exciting and I'm glad I got to go with her," Paul said.

When Mary and Paul landed, they were greeted by many of their family and friends. Surely a birthday she will never forget.

Yes, Mary plans on skydiving again. She joked that she would do it again when she turns 100.

Mary is a lifelong resident of South Bend and Mishawaka. She lost her husband in 2002 and said she would always skydive when she turned 90.

She is the oldest surviving family member and one of four siblings left of the 10 she grew up with.