Blind poet Dave Steele and his wife, Amy, recently took a unique “plunge” in the battle against blindness by skydiving for Henshaws, a U.K. based northern charity supporting people living with sight loss and a range of other disabilities. As ambassadors for this organization, the couple raised an incredible £725 for the charity skydive by throwing themselves out of a plane at 15,000 feet! How’s that for dedication?
Steele’s books, Stand By Me Volumes I, II and III were written to raise awareness and help those living with his condition, Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP). Over the past two years, Dave has lost the majority of his vision to this hereditary degenerative condition which has no treatment or cure. His poetry has gained worldwide attention with both international blind organizations and RP social media support groups.
Dave first began working with Henshaws last December when he was invited to recite his poetry during the organization’s holiday fundraiser, Carols By Candlelight held at Manchester Cathedral. Since then, Steele has developed a close relationship with the people behind Henshaws.
This U.K. based northern charity offers several major services:
- Housing & Support: Henshaws strongly believes that, wherever they are, everyone has the right to an independent and fulfilling life. The organization’s support, advice, and training enable people and their families build skills, develop confidence, help each other and look forward to a more positive future. Henshaws Housing & Support enables people of all ages living with sight loss and a range of other disabilities to live more independently. Whether in one of their organizational houses or in their own home, Henshaw’s provides support so that people can build skills, make their own choices and be part of their local community; develop connections and lead a more fulfilling life.
- Training & Services for Business: Henshaws offers a range of services to support and benefit local businesses. By working with the organization, these proprietors not only support a local charity but also contribute towards their corporate social responsibility targets.
- Disability Support Services: Henshaws Therapy, Educational and Sensory Support is an in-house team who offer a wide range of health and support services, providing a one-stop shop for adult healthcare. Staff is experienced in working with young people with a range of disabilities.
- Specialist College: Henshaws Specialist College is a transformational place. Through their personalized approach to education, learning and care the organization empowers young people aged 16-25 living with a disability to progress and live life the way they want. Whether preparing for employment, making friends or learning to live more independently, Henshaws Specialist College enables students to make their aspirations possible and goals a reality with the option of living on campus or attending part-time programming.
- Art & Crafts: Henshaws Arts & Crafts is making more than art. They are bringing people together in an atmosphere that never fails to inspire. Through workshops, people living with a range of disabilities discover their talents, put them into practice and realize their full potential.
- Community Services: Through Henshaws Pathway to Independence program, the organization designs individual services plans of support, activities, and training to help every individual client. With centers across Greater Manchester and Liverpool, England, Henshaws is able to offer a range of services to provide visually impaired people with an improved quality of life for people of all ages from children to adults.
While Dave Steele is somewhat accustomed to being in the global spotlight thanks to his poetry, his wife is far less comfortable. However, as her husband’s biggest fan, she’s the first to support him – even when he asked her to jump out of a plane with him for Henshaws.
Personally, I would have written Henshaws a check just so I “didn’t” have to jump from 15,000 feet. But, hey, that’s me!
As we say in the big city, “Amy Steele has got some BALLS.” BRASS ONES!
I read Amy’s Facebook post after her leap of faith, and to my surprise, it seemed like she might have conquered something herself as she leaped out of that plane. This is what she had to say;
“I had thought about this moment for weeks and weeks and imagined every scenario and outcome 1000 times in my head. What if the plane stalls? What if I fall out? What if my parachute doesn’t work? What if it breaks? What if I can’t do it? What if I break my leg? What if I forget to do something vital? What if I let people down? Never once did I think to myself, What if I can do it? What if I make people proud? What if I overcome my demons and get inside the very small plane packed in like sardines?”
“As we stood watching the first 3 planes full of jumpers take off and jump out my head feels heavy with fear and doubt. Strapped very tight to my instructor he could clearly feel me taking lots of deep breaths as he kept squeezing my shoulders to calm me and telling me I was doing great. I didn’t believe him. I looked out of the window and we were so high up now the clouds were below us. How was I going to get back down? I knew there was only one answer; I was going to have to somehow put my trust in someone I’d just met and hand over complete control to them to keep me safe.”
I was overcome with emotion as we free fell at 160 miles an hour towards the clouds. It was completely silent and breathtakingly beautiful; almost like I was floating. The free fall lasted a minute but felt like a lifetime. Before I knew it we were coming into land and the magnitude of what I had just done dawned on me very quickly! As we hit the floor I started crying and couldn’t stop. My demons didn’t win; I DID!! I have never felt euphoria like it. I had fought against my own mind and body and won! And my soulmate was there to witness it! I felt as though I could take on the world and win. I FELT FREE! For so long my anxiety has controlled many aspects of my life and dictated to me what I was or wasn’t capable of. Today, I WON.”
So many people shy away from discussing their fears and anxiety, but not Ms. Amy Steele. Congratulations to Amy for your brutal honesty, conquering your fear, and helping your poet husband raise money for this worthy cause.
If you’re in the U.K. and would like to learn more about Henshaws, click HERE. Interested in supporting this charity with your own challenge? Get in touch with our fundraising team on 0161 786 3656 or email [email protected]