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USO helps veterans conquer their fears, honor heroes at 'Jumping for a Purpose' skydiving event

USO's "Jumping for a Purpose" played out in the skies over the Virginia Beach Oceanfront.

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — High above the Virginia Beach Oceanfront on Friday, people were falling from the skies.

With parachutes!

It was part of a special program called "Jumping for a Purpose," designed to help Wounded Warriors heal, and honor fallen military heroes.

Bianca Baldwin made the leap from 12,000 feet up to honor her late special forces husband, Darren.

"I did promise him before he passed away I would do it," she said. "I kept my promise. I'm just so grateful. It was peaceful. And I felt like he was right there."

Jumping for a Purpose is a key piece of USO Experience Virginia Beach.

The USO of Hampton Roads and Central Virginia and Skydive Suffolk put it all together.

"It's meaningful, in addition to a lot of fun for people. They're testing their limits," said Paula Moran, the CEO of the local USO branch.

Wounded, ill and injured veterans conquered their fears, and made the jump, along with Gold Star family members and friends, who took the plunge to honor of their fallen heroes.

"I jumped in honor of First Lieut. Darren Hildago, who was killed in action in Afghanistan, February 12th, 2011," said Sarah Kemp, USO Southeast Director. "It was really important to me to honor our fallen. I knew First Lieut. Hildago personally, and he was a great soldier. As long as we talk about those we lost, their memory will never fade."

Marine Corps Lance Corp. Stephen Foulkes is a Wounded Warrior, and Friday marked his first jump.

"I don't think I can really describe it," he said. "For me personally, this is something I'm always going to remember because I don't think I'm going to get an opportunity to do it again. So I'm going to get to cherish this for the rest of my life."

Various recreational and therapeutic activities continue throughout the weekend.

You can visit the USO Military Village at the boardwalk and 17th Street on Saturday and Sunday.

 And, singer Edwin McCain will perform a free concert at the 17th Street stage Saturday night at 7:30 p.m.

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