The Mayor of Charlevoix, Michigan is also the owner of the skydiving company Skydive Harbor Springs, which is located at the Charlevoix Municipal Airport. Mayor Luther Kurtz took Dylan Boks skydiving on Friday, July 28, 2017. Dylan is 11 years old and resides in Bay City, Michigan. Current laws restrict anybody under the age of 18 from going skydiving. The laws were bypassed for Dylan because he has had a brain tumor since the age of five.
Dylan has been participating in Camp Quality Michigan this summer. The camp provides recreational opportunities for kids with cancer.
Kristyn Balog is the Camp Quality Michigan Executive Director. She talked about the program. “Camp Quality is all about providing recreation for kids with cancer,” Balog said. “We’re all about removing them from the medical aches and pains, keeping the mind busy and providing them with fun and memories and smiles.”
In order to make skydiving possible for Dylan, a special permit had to be granted from the United States Parachute Association and United Parachute Technologies. Current laws restrict anyone below the age of 18 from skydiving.
“We’ve been working it out from a safety standpoint and looking to make it a family event, and how do we get the kids together,” Balog said. “They enjoy doing things like this together and we just put it on our Facebook page and about five kids came forward, all under the age of 13.”
Describing the feeling of being over 10,000 feet in the air, Dylan said, “Looking down at the view I saw mining sites, some farms, and a bunch of trees. It was a really nice view. We could see Traverse City and the lakes. It was great.”
According to Dylan, Kurtz exhibited a sense of “trust,” when he took him up in his 1964 Cessna 182 with Dan Hopkins piloting the aircraft.
Kurtz expressed happiness to be a part of Dylan’s skydiving adventure. “It’s the first time I’ve jumped with someone who’s 11,” Kurtz said. “He’s a brave little guy. He said, ‘sure, I’ll steer,’ and ‘sure, I’ll land the parachute.'”
Kurtz described the dive as “special.” Explaining how his skydiving company came into contact with Camp Quality, Kurtz said, “I contacted Camp Quality, had heard what they were doing and it’s really awesome what they’re doing for the kids there. Camp Quality was really great to work with and they helped us get hooked up with the campers, get the paperwork, and doctor’s notes and special waivers signed.”
Dylan has been a part of Camp Quality for four years. According to Dylan’s mother, Mary, the brain tumor Dylan has is considered low-grade but is attached to his brain stem. She said that they tried performing surgery on the tumor and severed a nerve, but she described Dylan as “healthy.” Dylan has not had to undergo chemotherapy for almost two full years. Three times a year, Dylan goes in for MRIs.
Mary said that the tumor is still growing. “His doctor said right now the growth is so slow it’s in his best interest to live a normal life,” Mary said.
Talking about Camp Quality, Mary said, “Camp Quality is an amazing organization. There’s a lot of other kids out there besides the 120 that go to camp every year that can benefit from this. We didn’t realize when Dylan was five that there’s opportunities to do something like this.”
Camp Quality, which is celebrating its 30th year, lists two of their goals on their website as “To allow children with cancer to be children again,” and “to create stress-free environments that offer exciting activities, foster new friendships, and help give children courage, motivation and emotional strength.”
Balog said, “These kids are in various stages of their journey with cancer and treatment. Some are still in treatment. Some are out, and some are survivors. We provide for all of them because we know their chances of being a kid is very different and they’ve all spent time in hospitals.”