It is with an unbelievably heavy heart that we post this. The Span family of California and their friends held a skydiving fundraiser in November 2009 for Unite For The Cure. The event raised over $10,000 — an unbelievable accomplishment. Two weeks after the fundraiser, on December 12, their precious fighter Zachary was taken much too soon by SMA. Although there is no way for us to begin to understand what the Span family is going through right now, we know enough to know that there is nothing we can say or do to make any of it any better. Regardless, our thoughts and prayers are with Dave and Kellie during this unfathomably difficult time.
Below is an article for Parachutist magazine by Jennifer Domenico about the skydiving fundraiser:
On November 28, 2009, the Perris Valley skydiving community, in association with numerous sponsors from the skydiving industry, united together to raise money to fund a cure for Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA). SMA is a terminal motor neuron disease and is currently labeled the number one genetic killer of toddlers worldwide. The fundraising event was coordinated by Dave and Kellie Span, longtime family of Perris Valley Skydiving and Square One Parachute Sales, whose son Zachary was unfortunately diagnosed with this disease in June at two months old. At the time of the fundraiser, Zachary was hospitalized and fighting for his life, up against a disease for which there is currently no cure or treatment.
Through a comprehensive fundraising effort which included a silent auction, Chinese raffle, classic raffle, bake sale, and poker tournament, Perris Valley skydivers, various commercial sponsors and friends of the community raised in excess of $10,000. Mirage Systems donated a new container for the centerpiece raffle which was won by skydiver Shawn Foley. Other primary sponsors included Perris Valley Skydiving, Icarus Canopies, United Parachute Technologies, Square One Parachute Sales, Aerodyne Research, and Perris Fury. Secondary gifts and prizes were donated by Skydive Hawaii, Bonehead Composites, Sky Systems, Bev Suit, Alti-2, Gatorz Sunglasses, and numerous other individuals and businesses whose generosity made this event such a huge success. Thanks to everyone who gathered on that cold, rainy November day in Perris, a significant step was made to give little Zachary and his family hope that there is a fighting chance for other SMA children in generations to come.
The support structure within the skydiving community, and particularly Perris Valley Skydiving, is truly remarkable. In times of need it is often that our family is called upon to unite for emotional support, financial support, and this time, a cure. Having raised a significant sum of money for Families of SMA, once again, we can say we were there for our skydiving brothers and sisters; once again we can say we made a difference in the lives of others.
Unfortunately, on December 12th, only 2 weeks after the fundraiser, Zachary Span lost his battle with SMA and was taken from this world all too soon. But with the assistance of his loving family and such a supportive community, his legacy leaves behind a contribution to the fight against this disease to better the lives of other SMA families like the Spans. If you would like to make a contribution to this effort, donations can be made in the name of Zachary Span at FSMA.org.
Zachary Span, you will be missed…