Scott: The jumpsuit comes on and so does the harness, and so does the indescribable sensation of fear that rushes over your entire body.
I was getting ready to jump out of a perfectly working plane. Oh, and I should probably mention, I’m deathly afraid of heights.
At 15,000 feet, we are up so high, oxygen masks had to be worn in the plane. It’s safe to say, I was more than nervous. And still we weren’t high enough. We were headed to 18,000 feet.
But more than the thrill of a lifetime brought me the town of Lompoc just outside of Santa Barbara, California. This was for a fundraiser known as 18 for 18.
Serinda Swan: We are actually going to have 48 people up in the air all for this cause, so it’s pretty amazing.
We have an amazing group of people that are here to support, that are here to bring awareness for sex trafficking, and to support the girls in The Somaly Mam Foundation.
Scott: Actress Serinda Swan’s efforts all began after a bike ride across the Southeast Asian country of Cambodia. There, she visited shelters filled with young girls who had managed to escape the brutal reality of human trafficking, the trading of human beings for sex or forced labor – essentially, modern day slavery.
Serinda: One of the main things was they felt like anybody cared or anybody saw them. And for me, that’s the complete opposite. I mean, as soon as you hear their story all you do is care. All you do is have this outpouring of love for these women and children. And so I got home and I was like, ‘I need to do something.’
Scott: So Serinda began working with The Somaly Mam Foundation, an organization that is battling human trafficking in countries like Cambodia.
Last year, the goal was to raise $18,000 for the foundation, and face their fears while jumping 18,000 feet.
This year, the jumpers set the bar even higher at $50,000. And every person jumping helped raise money by taking to Twitter, Facebook and events to rally family, friends and followers to donate and spread the message.
Serinda: As of this morning, we added everything up and we are at $70,506.
Scott: Wow! How does that feel?
Serinda: It feels incredible! I can’t even put it into words how blessed I feel that this has been able to do this, and for the girls I said I would help. And I can’t do this without everybody else. This is definitely not my thing that people are joining me with; it’s our thing.
Scott: When you’re dropping 18,000 feet, do you see their faces?
Serinda: Absolutely. “Three,” alright, I’m seeing all those girls. “Two,” I’m literally sitting there watching them smile and dance in my head, and “one,” it’s like every single person that’s around me and I’m just going, “Yes, I care.”
Scott: Now it was my turn to show I cared.
It was over one minute of free fall. Plummeting toward the earth at as much as 125 miles per hour, then snapped to just under ten miles per hour in just seconds when the parachute opens.
Serinda says it doesn’t take jumping out of a plane to make a difference.
Serinda: Find your passion. I figured out what I cared about, and then I just went and did it. That’s how this stuff happens.
Scott: Scott Evans, Channel One News.
- What is human trafficking?
- What is the purpose of 18 for 18?
- How do events like skydiving help The Somaly Mam Foundation?