The world is a beautiful place, full of all kinds of exciting adventures. While some are more difficult to achieve than others, organizations like Project Airtime are working hard to make thrill-seeking more accessible.
Chris Santacroce has always been the athletic type. He’s been a full-time paragliding professional since 1992 and has received several amazing opportunities, including being a Red Bull athlete and traveling around the world.
But his adventurous life came to a halt when he suffered a spinal cord injury. Suddenly, Chris wasn’t able to do what he loved most because he was in a wheelchair. Although he would go on to fully recover, the experience drastically shifted his goals in life as well as his view of the world.
According to the Project Airtime website, Chris went from having a “look at me and look what I can do” attitude to asking the question, “What can I do for you?”
That question is what inspired Chris to found Project Airtime. The nonprofit, which is based in Utah, is all about giving everyone the chance to fly — with a major emphasis on everyone.
“From special needs individuals to those with brain and spinal cord injuries. Individuals with illness, as well as the elderly and veterans,” the organization said. “Our copilots have one thing in common, they want to fly!”
The positive impact Chris is making with his organization can be seen in the happy visitors who use Project Airtime’s services. One in particular, Joe Stone, has a story quite like Chris’.
In August 2010, Joe came incredibly close to losing his life at the age of 25. He was speed flying, a form of paragliding, when he crashed into Mount Jumbo. This led to a monthlong coma and a four-month stay at the hospital.
Joe fought hard to survive, but unlike Chris, he wasn’t able to make a full recovery. Now he is a quadriplegic who is paralyzed from the chest down and has impairments in both his hands.
Just a year after his recovery, he hand-cycled the Going-to-the-Sun Road in Glacier National Park. Soon after, he became the first quadriplegic to compete in an Ironman triathlon. With all of these accomplishments, it’s no wonder Project Airtime caught his eye.
In no time, Joe was able to add paragliding to his list of adventures with the help of an adaptive chair! But that’s not where his relationship with the nonprofit ends. Inspired by his own experience, Joe now trains others and is the organization’s director of mission.
“We’re here to help anyone and everyone who wants to try it, if they’re ready to do it,” Joe said.
What an incredible way to open the skies up to everyone! Watch someone paragliding with Project Airtime in the video below, and don’t forget to share this story.
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