BATTLE GROUND, Wash. — For her 73rd birthday, a Battle Ground, Wash. great grandma is taking the leap of a lifetime.
On Sunday, Shirley Romig went skydiving to raise money for an organization that pairs veterans in need with service dogs.
A day before her birthday, Romig brought three of her passions together: dogs, helping veterans, and adventure.
"To skydive is the most amazing thing I've ever done," she said.
Romig and her granddaughter Cassidy Tyre decided to take the leap together at the Beaver Oaks airport in Eagle Creek, Oregon.
"She told me, 'Today’s the day, you’re doing it.' So, here I am," Tyre said. "All generations here. It’s just really awesome."
This was Tyre’s first skydiving experience, but Romig is no stranger to soaring through the sky. Sunday was her fifth skydiving feat.
"When you jump out, your mouth opens and you're freefalling and it's awesome," Romig said.
While she is no newbie, this time Romig was on a mission. She is using her birthday skydive to drum up attention and raise money for Paws Assisting Veterans (PAVE), a nonprofit organization that trains service dogs and pairs them with veterans in need.
"We provide highly positively trained service dogs to veterans that come back home in need of help. And that can be with PTDS, or traumatic brain injuries and even conditions that require dogs to be their hands," PAVE program manager Vanesa Vizuete said.
"I've seen what the dogs do for veterans and it really, it changes them. It just helps them," Romig said. "What it does for them is – it saves their lives."
Romig hopes to raise $12,000 dollars online and she is using this jump to drum up attention.
"Some veterans come back and they're not able to sleep more than 30 minutes a night. And suddenly they have a dog that – just by being there by their side or being with them they go from 30 minutes to three, four hours in a matter of a week," Vizuete said.
Romig is part of a military family and she volunteers at the Clark County Veterans Assistance Center. She is also a former therapy dog owner. So, the best birthday present she could ask for is not a thrill from the sky, although that is quite the rush. It is helping save a veteran's life though the power of these amazing animals.
"22 suicides a day is just totally unacceptable and when you can see what a dog does for these guys, I mean I know what it does for me and what it does from them and I've seen it," Romig said.
If you’d like to help Romig in her mission to help raise money for service dogs, CLICK HERE to donate.