Lysa Adams is determined to raise money to fight the auto-immune disease lupus and set a record at the same time. On August 17, 18 and 19, Lysa and more than 70 other skydivers will jump out of four planes over the skies of Western Washington. Meeting in the air and linking hands, they hope to break the previous Pacific Northwest group jump record while raising money for the Leap for Lupus Foundation.
A founding member of the organization, Lysa first got the idea for a record-breaking jump in 2004 after her friend and co-founder Valinda Mitchell almost died from lupus complications. Although Valinda recovered, and went on to participate in the jump, it became clear to Lysa that standards of treatment were inadequate.
“There have been no new drugs or therapies in 40 years,” Lysa told me. “Valinda almost died,” she adds, “and eight months later she was setting the…record.”
Money from that event went to the Lupus Foundation, but later Lysa learned that it had not funded any research. Determined to provide direct funds to research, on June 20 they announced that Leap for Lupus funds would go to the University of Washington Division of Rheumatology.
Adams, who was partly raised in Bat Yam, Israel, began skydiving in 1993 in an effort to overcome a fear of heights. “I wanted to face my fear, but I realized it’s a lot of fun.” She even met her husband Bill skydiving. (The couple shares a military past: Lysa served in a tank unit in Israel and Bill is a retired Green Beret.)
The couple has two kids, Billy, 8, and Rachelle, 5. They live on 30 acres near Silverdale and are involved in Bainbridge Island’s Congregation Kol Ami. Billy has already expressed an interest in skydiving. He’s been up in the planes and has tried a vertical wind tunnel — a new, virtual way to train for skydiving.
“It was my fantasy to raise my kids in a kibbutz-like way,” says Lysa, whose own favorite kibbutz is Ein Hashofet in northern Israel. The family grows their own vegetables and the kids play in the woods, watched over by their Rhodesian Ridgeback.
“We have salmon spawning in the creek,” she told me, “a herd of deer and a hawk nesting.
“Gardening is my passion and living off the land is my passion.” She adds that the family is thinking about building a winery.
For more information or to make a donation, visit www.leapforlupus.org or call Lysa directly at 360-620-3369.
In August, Amee Sherer, her husband Michael and their kids, Sam and Juliana, leave their Seattle home for a year in Israel, where Amee will work with the Ziv Tzedakah Fund.
Founded by Danny Siegel in 1981, Ziv collects and distributes money to little-known charity projects in Israel that operate with minimal overhead and bureaucracy, often run by one person or a few “ordinary people” whom Ziv calls “mitzvah heroes” (www.ziv.org).
Siegel proffered a personal invitation to Amee to become one of their chavayrat ziv (intern or fellow) when she and fellow Seattle Jewish Community School teacher Michelle Stern were in Israel as part of Ziv’s 2006 program for Jewish educators. (Amee is the school’s 1st grade Judaic Studies teacher.)
“In the last 20 years I am the fourth person to do this,” explains Amee. “It was a complete surprise to me,” to be asked.
“I’ve known Danny since I was 15,” Amy relates, since her sister, local educator Beth Huppin, worked with him on Israel’s Lifeline for the Elderly program, before he founded Ziv.
Amee will work directly with many of the 40 mitzvah heroes, including Israel Prize-winner Rabbanit Bracha Kapach, who feeds hungry people and runs a summer camp for underprivileged children, or Barbara Silverman, who provides CARE packages of essentials for Israeli soldiers. (When Amee and Michelle last went to Israel, they brought 50 pounds of donated items and helped volunteers assemble 1,000 packets.)
Amee will also study Jewish texts with Siegel’s Israeli counterpart, Arnie Draiman, connecting teaching with charity work. Michael says they will “act as liaisons to visitors from the U.S. and elsewhere.”
The Sherers will live in Jerusalem, on the “cusp between Baka and Talpiot where lots of Anglo families live,” and near synagogues of all denominations. The children, who are excited about their adventure, will attend Israeli school. “We feel we’ve been given this amazing opportunity to let the kids experience a whole year’s cycle of the holidays, everything they’ve learned about and studied” at SJCS, says Mom.
“My ultimate goal,” she says, “is to come back and infiltrate Seattle with what I have done.” Even though many Seattle-area synagogues already require a mitzvah project for their Bar and Bat Mitzvah students, Amee hopes to help expand both the number and quality of projects that are done by both day schools and synagogues.