When cake and candles just won’t do

Highland Springs residents embrace adventure to celebrate birthdays

Created date

June 24th, 2019
Fern Sigafoos (left) and Eldora Chambers prepare to skydive in celebration of Eldora’s birthday with their experienced, tandem skydivers strapped to their backs.

Fern Sigafoos (left) and Eldora Chambers prepare to skydive in celebration of Eldora’s birthday with their experienced, tandem skydivers strapped to their backs.

Eldora Chambers has long been a trailblazer.

She was growing organic vegetables in her 80-square-foot backyard garden well before Whole Foods or Central Market came on the scene. 

“My son couldn’t digest processed foods, so I learned everything I could about organic gardening,” says Eldora, who continues to grow potatoes, onions, lettuce, spinach, and black-eyed peas in her three garden plots at Highland Springs, the Erickson Living community in North Dallas where she’s lived since October 2006.

Eldora’s healthy lifestyle is nurtured at Highland Springs, where she works out regularly in the onsite fitness center, attends Bible study, plays bridge, and belongs to the Drama Club.

Not one to mark special occasions in the usual manner, Eldora had a unique idea to celebrate her birthday this year.

Soaring above

“The idea came to me in the latter part of February,” says Eldora. “I wanted to skydive.”

Eldora mentioned the idea to friends who also live at Highland Springs, Fern and Sig Sigafoos. As it turned out, Eldora’s enthusiasm was contagious.

“We’d never considered skydiving before, but we decided to give it a try,” says Sig.

On April 26, three days after Eldora’s birthday, the trio donned skydiving suits, climbed into a plane, and headed up to 14,000 feet.

“It was fantastic,” says Eldora. “We could see for miles.”

Eldora, Fern, and Sig completed tandem jumps, each strapped to an experienced skydiver.

“We were in free fall for about a minute, then the instructor pulled the ripcord at 6,000 feet,” says Sig. “We all landed in approximately the same area.”

Eldora says the experience was exhilarating.

“It was a lot of fun,” she says. “And that was just one part of my birthday month. The grand finale was the Drama Club’s production of Old Time Radio Plays in early May. I had the opportunity to play Gracie Allen. It was the perfect way to celebrate with friends.”

Floating on air

Eldora’s not the only Highland Springs resident to take to the sky this year. Betty Cuniberti also celebrated her birthday in high-flying fashion.

“I’d always wanted to go up in a hot-air balloon,” says Betty, who moved to Highland Springs in 2016 from Columbus, Ohio, to be closer to family. “I tried to go hot-air ballooning three times when I lived in Ohio, but each time inclement weather prevented it.”

Betty’s granddaughter Susan arranged for a hot-air balloon ride on Betty’s birthday, February 15.

“The weather was perfect,” says Betty. “It felt like we were floating. At one point, the pilot dipped down into a quarry and skimmed the water. That was quite a thrill.”

Betty’s birthday celebration continued as she enjoyed dinner with extended family, including three family members who flew in from Europe for the occasion.

“What a joy to celebrate our incredible residents,” says Matt Neville, executive director at Highland Springs. “Their enthusiasm and vibrancy add so much to our community, and it’s a privilege to see them embrace life in fun, adventurous ways.”