The Ride of Her Life: Leauise Graves Skydives for the First Time at Age 85

Eagle's Trace resident does "tandem freefall" from 10,000 feet

HOUSTON, TX---When Leauise Graves, 85, told others that she wanted to skydive, the reaction was mixed. "A few people called me crazy," described Mrs. Graves, a resident of Eagle's Trace retirement community in West Houston. Undeterred, she set forth to follow her dream, scheduling an appointment with Skydive Texas Beaches.  However, the weather forced the cancellation of her first two attempts in the spring. Then in mid-June, her husband of sixty-two years, David Graves, passed away suddenly.  Together, they had lived and traveled throughout the world, including Indonesia and Saudi Arabia.  "I miss him a lot," described Mrs. Graves, a native of Oregon and a former realtor. But she remained committed to the adventure at hand.  And on July 16th, a break in the weather allowed her the opportunity to finally attain her goal.  Along with her son, Ronald, and fellow Eagle's Trace residents August and Mary Look, she traveled to Sport Flyers Airport in Brookshire, TX where she met her instructor, David Hejl. Like all students, Mrs. Graves received forty-five minutes of training in normal and emergency procedures for all aspects of her tandem freefall jump, from climb to altitude, exit, opening, canopy control and landing. Following her session with Mr. Hejl, it was time to board the Cessna 182J wide body airplane. "It was a wonderful experience," said Mrs. Graves.  "I thought I would be scared standing on the edge of the plane at ten thousand feet, but incredibly, I wasn't.  The freefall was amazing, and I had a knowledgeable instructor in David." In tribute to her late husband, Mrs. Graves spread some of his ashes as she jumped from the plane. "With her incredible zest for adventure, Mrs. Graves reminds me of a modern day Amelia Earhart.  It was our honor to take such a fabulous woman on the ride of her life, and we will stay tuned for the next jump," said Mr. Hejl, instructor with Skydive Texas Beaches. And that day is approaching.  Mrs. Graves is looking forward to trying it again, this time on her 86th birthday in February...with a twist. "I want to jump from fourteen thousand feet the next time," stated Ms. Graves.

About Eagle's Trace: Eagle's Trace, managed and developed by Erickson Living, is a retirement community that provides worry-free living for America's seniors-the country's fastest growing population segment.  Erickson Living's financial value and predictable monthly service fees provide residents across the country financial peace of mind.  Comprehensive health and wellness services, integrated into our continuum of care, lead to demonstrated resident benefits.  A robust complement of resident programs and facilities promote an engaged, fulfilling lifestyle that is reflected in resident satisfaction levels that exceed the industry average.  And the company's wide-ranging employee programs have earned Erickson Living numerous awards, including Fortune magazine's "Best Companies to Work For®" in 2008 and 2009.