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Flying high for Israel

Harry Weller skydiving in tandem with his instructor, Tony.

Harry Weller skydiving in tandem with his instructor, Tony.

Harry Weller of West Hartford marked his 60th birthday by proving that you’re never too old to take a giant leap of faith…or just a leap. And so he did – by stepping out of a soaring Piper Cub airplane into the awe-inspiring open skies above Windsor. For Weller, the jump was his very first skydive – and he did it not only to celebrate his big birthday, but also to raise funds for OneFamily – a non-profit organization that empowers Israel’s thousands of victims of terror attacks, and their families, to rebuild their lives, by providing emotional, legal, and financial assistance programs.

“With the situation in Israel, and because I couldn’t go there to volunteer, I wanted to do something to help, to be useful,” he explains. “It was a gas – and all for a good cause.”

In lieu of birthday gifts, Weller asked family and friends to make a charitable donation to OneFamily or, for those not inclined, a local veterans group. “OneFamily set up a website for me, and I also got cash and checks,” he says. “If folks had another charity preference, I encouraged that as well.”

By the time his feet were back on solid ground, Weller had raised more than $4,000 for OneFamily, as well as $1,000+ for other charities. And, he notes, donations are still coming in. “I hope it helps,” he says.

Harry Weller (left) and Aaron Cohen, before their skydive.

Harry Weller (left) and Aaron Cohen, before their skydive.

On hand to witness Weller’s fearless feat were several family and friends, including Weller’s wife, Robin Etelis Weller, and his friend Aaron Cohen of Simsbury, who provided moral support by skydiving with him. Both Weller and Cohen are active members of Beth David Synagogue in West Hartford.

And how did it feel? “[It was] the most thrilling experience I’ve ever had; an awesome feeling of freedom,” he says. “I enjoyed every second of the trip, and doing it for a worthy charity just gave it meaning that would have been lacking.”

For more information on OneFamily, visit www.onefamily together.org.

To watch Harry sail through the air, watch his YouTube video, Harry W. Skydive.

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