Fundraising campaign helps student achieve life-long dream

Shawn Sattazahn, a 34-year-old ROTC student at WKU, was born with an advanced form of cerebral palsy. He hopes to skydive and says, “Being airborne is a personal goal for myself.” His neighbor and friend, Tim LeMastus, has started a GoFundMe to raise money to make Sattazahn’s dream come true. Jacob Hurdt/HERALD 

Andrew Henderson

A campus-wide campaign has aimed for the clouds to help a student achieve a life-long dream.

Shawn Sattazahn, 34-year-old Russellville native and cadet in WKU ROTC, has wanted to go skydiving ever since he was a little kid. Thanks to a recent campaign to put him in the sky, Sattazahn’s dream will soon become a reality.

The campaign Get Shawn in the Sky was created on Oct. 16 as a Facebook page, Twitter hashtag and GoFundMe campaign. The goal of the fundraiser was to raise $875 to cover skydiving costs and a GoPro Camera for Sattazahn to wear during his jump. At the time of publication, the campaign has exceeded its goal and raised $885.

However, Sattazahn isn’t just seeking the exhilarating thrill of the jump when he goes skydiving. He said he’s also looking to fulfill a military requirement.

“I’m not just doing it to be doing it; I’m getting the training for my military career later on,” he said.

He said to be officially certified as a Jumpmaster, you have to complete five to 28 jumps, but the ROTC program has made concession for him to get his jump wings after one solitary jump.

He’s also looking forward to learning how to skydive properly so he can do it again if he wants to.

“It’s … unheard-of for people with quadriplegic cerebral palsy to actually want to do military service,” Sattazahn said. “I’ve got the mind for it, just not the body.”

Sattazahn was born with quadriplegic cerebral palsy. He said certain people with the condition are sometimes unable to talk and perform other functions by themselves such as eating. He said he was “very blessed” for the skills he possesses.

Sattazahn said his condition has created obstacles for him in the past. He recalled one time when he wanted to play football but had to sit on the sidelines. Although he said these instances were very disappointing sometimes, he doesn’t allow these disappointments to bring him down.

“You have to raise above your obstacles, and don’t let anything prevent you from achieving your goal,” Sattazahn said.

The Get Shawn in the Sky campaign was started by Bardstown senior Tim LeMastus, who is Sattazahn’s neighbor. LeMastus said he originally wanted to take Sattazahn kayaking, but his lack of balance would prevent him from doing this. Skydiving became the next choice.

“I don’t really have a reason why I did it, but I go down and knock on his door and I’m like, ‘Hey, you ever wanted to go skydiving?’” LeMastus said. “I’ve never seen somebody that happy. I asked him, and he just lit up.”

Sattazahn said LeMastus created the campaign on a whim, and the campaign’s overall success and support has completely shocked him.

“It just made me be in total shock that somebody would actually take an interest in who I was as a person and [want] to fulfill a dream of mine,” Sattazahn said.

LeMastus set up a table for the campaign Tuesday in Downing Student Union, where he sold koozies for $2 and accepted donations from people who passed by.

“I’m sorry — I only have change,” one student said while donating money for the campaign.

LeMastus said he has met some amazing people during the time he set up his table. He recalled a man with holes in his shirt who took out change and put it in the bucket.

“I said, ‘Hey, want your koozie?’ and he said, ‘No this is awesome,’” LeMastus said.

Sattazahn expressed confusion as to why people were being so supportive and questioned LeMastus about his incentive to promote the campaign, but LeMastus said people can do nice things for others and not need a reason.

“Hey, we can all get in our car and go skydiving; he can’t,” LeMastus said.

Sattazahn said he was worried his health would be an obstacle and that he wouldn’t obtain medical clearance for his jump. Fortunately, he said, his doctor has cleared him for it, and Sattazahn will be obtaining a written letter of consent within the next few days. He said the support from family and friends has been overwhelming.

“I guess my faith and my family and even my friends are the ones that are saying, ‘You can do this. You can do whatever you please; don’t let anything stop you,’” Sattazahn said. “That’s what I would tell my fellow students: ‘Don’t let anything stop you.’”

LeMastus said Sattazahn will dive through the skies on Nov. 8.