October 14, 2005





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Melanie Poelvoorde celebrated the half-century mark by doing a tandem skydive at Perris Valley Skydiving, where she works in the Bombshelter Bar and Grill.
Bartender takes the plunge on her 50th birthday

By Sharon Rice
The Friday Flyer Assistant Editor

     As a bartender at Perris Valley Skydiving’s Bombshelter Bar and Grill, Melanie Poelvoorde has watched hundreds of experienced skydivers come and go at her restaurant, exuding the confidence and enthusiasm that comes with conquering danger. She’s also seen beginners of all ages come in to view DVD replays of their first tandem skydives – and shared secondhand in their excitement.
     But it wasn’t until her 50th birthday on September 29 that Melanie finally made the jump for herself. It was serendipitous that her birthday coincided with the same week a group of more than 150 female skydivers were in town to “Jump for the Cause” – a fundraiser to raise money for breast cancer research – because it gave Melanie the impetus to dedicate her tandem skydive to two longtime friends who have struggled with breast cancer.
     Saying she “was nervous but not scared” to jump out of a plane attached to jumpmaster Karen Lewis, Melanie loved the sensation of beginning her one-minute freefall at 13,000 feet. At that height, there is no visual sensation of rushing toward earth at 120 mph – but rather of floating through space. It’s almost impossible not to smile from sheer joy, as evidenced by Melanie’s picture and the hundreds of other photos that are plastered across the walls of the Bombshelter.
     Like so many others she’s seen enjoying videos of their first sky dives, Melanie relived her experience through the lens of videographer Alex Allen after she reached the ground. She anticipated making a copy of the video to send to one of her friends with breast cancer, whose birthday was on October 8.
     Besides doing her own jump that week, Melanie was busy at the Bombshelter with the increased activity that always comes with a big event like Jump for the Cause.
     After a week of attempts, participants in the all-woman formation successfully pulled off a 151-person jump on Friday, September 30, breaking the record set by the same group in 2002 when 131 women linked up. Melanie included a T-shirt from the occasion with the video for her friend.
     The Jump for the Cause campaign was founded by Mallory Lewis after her mother, puppeteer Shari Lewis, died of cancer in 1998. The year’s jump raised nearly $500,000, which will be donated to the City of Hope’s breast cancer research programs.
     A bartender at the Canyon Lake Country Club for six years before transferring to her present position 18 months ago, Melanie invites her friends and neighbors to drive over the hill for a visit to the Bombshelter Bar and Grill, located on the grounds of Perris Valley Skydiving.
     “It’s a really fun place to take people who are from out of town – and it’s so close,” she says. “You can sit by the windows or outside by the pool and watch skydivers land, or you can watch skydiving videos on television screens inside.”
     To get to the skydive center, which also includes the SkyVenture vertical wind tunnel (open to the public), take Goetz Rd. all the way through Quail Valley to Perris Valley. The facility is located at 2091 Goetz. Rd. For more information, go to skydiveperris.com.


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