Do the unexpected when living with multiple sclerosis (MS)

September 30, 2015
Sixty seconds of free fall at 120 miles per hour followed by a six minute float from 12,500 feet above the ground. Scary? Nah. Not to Jenel Kludsikofsky.

Jenel has been skydiving five times since being diagnosed with MS, and she was decidedly not nervous the first time. After making the decision to float the sky before turning 40, Jenel immediately fell in love with the sport. "I find it liberating, and it puts me on a 'normal' level with non-MS people." Having always jumped tandem, Jenel says the instructors treat you as though you are without disability. When you are one with the clouds, your physical shortcomings no longer provide any complications.

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Pictured above, Jenel is jumping out of a plane for her first time. When asked if she was nervous she said, "No. I had a can-do attitude." And when asked if she was a thrill-seeker, she paused and said, "Yes, but more so I do not want to do the expected, I want to do the unexpected. When I jump, I feel empowered--I feel set apart from people. In those moments, MS does not have me. Skydiving makes me like anyone else without a cane."

Her resounding spirit is felt even through the phone. When asked where this truly empowering attitude comes from she said, "My father had MS since he was in his 30's. He always kept himself busy. He said, "Jenel, if you have the wrong attitude, you'll be in a wheelchair. If you have the right attitude, you'll never be in one." Jenel is 48 years old, has had MS for 23 years, has never been in a wheelchair and does not plan to be.

As a single mom who has worked full-time since her diagnosis, Jenel can no longer play the sports she used to enjoy; but she watches them, cheers on her two sons in their athletic endeavors, keeps moving forward and floats amongst the clouds whenever she can.

Her words leave an inspirational impression: "Don't do the expected, do the unexpected."

It is perhaps fitting that Jenel's last name ends in 'sky.'