Jerry Porter is living proof the sky is the limit. The Kaska Elder, from Lower Post, B.C., fulfilled a lifelong dream to go skydiving in Auckland, New Zealand.
“I was just coming out of the plane, you’re just free falling and going down, down,” he told APTN News from Auckland.
It’s nothing new for the 62-year-old thrill seeker. In 2018, the then 57-year-old bungee jumped off the Auckland Harbour Bridge where he plunged 40 meters into the Waitematā Harbor.
“When I got on top and I seen other people come up from the bungee jumper prior to my jump … they were all just shaking,” he said. “I was not shaky. “I went backward and I didn’t know if I made it ‘till I hit the water.
“When I got some salt water up my nose and in my ears, I know I made it,” he laughed.
But it hasn’t always been easy.
For decades, Porter’s addiction led him to be estranged from his wife and two daughters, who are Māori from New Zealand.
The family has since reconnected in recent years and Porter visits them often.
He said their love and support helped him embark on what he lovingly refers to as a “sobriety journey.”
After receiving treatment in Whitehorse in 2020, he’s been sober ever since.
Now, he’s encouraging others to reach out and get help.
“[Sobriety has] helped me family-wise. [I have] good friendships now with sober people too and the people I work with,” he said. “I wish my people would have been able to get on the same road, it’s a good life.”
He noted his two grandchildren have been instrumental in helping him maintain his sobriety.
“I’m doing what I want do which is to be sober and be the best grandpa around,” he said.
Porter’s daughter, Catherine, who is a councillor with Daylu Dena Council in Lower Post, said her father’s sobriety is helping them heal their relationship.
“We couldn’t have done that without, of course, his courage, but the support of the community of Lower Post,” she said. “Now I see my dad with my children, his grandchildren, and they get to see the full potential of them, which I sadly did not see, but now I can.
“It’s full circle really. It’s exciting.”
Not slowing down
Now, the Kaska Elder said he’s never felt better – and is eager to pursue any adventure that comes his way.
In the past year alone, he jumped nearly 200-meters off the Auckland Sky Tower and sailed on a Disney Cruise from Australia to New Zealand.
An experienced guide, he recently led his extended family on a sheep hunt at Muncho Lake in northern B.C.
“As soon as I got sober I wanted to try different things, not half-drunk and you’re brave and you want do it,” he said.
He noted a new adventure could soon be in the works, as encouraged by his sky diving instructor.
“He told me my next one would be swimming with the sharks. I don’t know about that one yet, but that’s when he told me,” he chuckled.
Catherine said her father’s adventurous spirit has never slowed with age.
“The old stories that I hear from his friends, I see that in him, the crazy wild stories that they had. He’s still doing it today. It’s still very strong in him, which is lovely,” she said.
Porter said it’s his love for adventure that keeps him young at heart.
“It’s a great feeling when you achieve it.”