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  • Writer's pictureSharon Bina

How It All Started - Love, Vision, Action

Twenty-three years ago I was afraid of heights. I couldn’t even look out of a high rise hotel room without feeling like the glass was giving way and I would fall out. Therefore, when a fellow co-worker, Raul DeLaCruz told me he went skydiving over the weekend and the next time I was in San Francisco he would take me, I said, “I think I could do that,” then I looked around thinking, “who said that? Surely it wasn’t me because I’m afraid of heights.” Well, I never did skydive with Raul, but that 1 conversation planted a seed that I could overcome my fear of heights and actually go skydiving.

Fast forward to June 2003, when my friend Pam Knippa was going skydiving with a singles group and asked if I wanted to join her. I felt really lucky that I was working in Atlanta that weekend and was able to use it as a great excuse to say “I would, but I’ll be out of town.” Unfortunately for Pam, she spent most of her day just hanging out at the drop zone because the wind was too high to skydive. Her jump was rescheduled for the next weekend, and this time I didn’t have an excuse, so I decided to go with her. Of course, I had the option to change my mind if I chickened out; however, we both got excited and invited some of our other single friends which we had met through Ultimate Singles, a dating service. We ended up with 6 people in our skydiving group that day.

When you go on your first tandem skydive, there is a training class you must attend so you’ll know what to expect during your skydive. After the class, I told our instructor Bill, “I wanted someone tall, dark and handsome to be my tandem master, because if I was going out, I wanted to go out in style.”

Pam and I were the first ones from our group to get geared up. That is when Mark Bina walked over all sweaty, with his unshaved face, hat on backwards, and I’m sure a few holes in his shirt. I never believed in “love at first sight” until that moment. I looked over at Bill and gave him a big thumbs up. Now, Mark wasn’t necessarily tall, or dark, but he was so darn cute with his big smile as he reached out to shake my hand and say “Hi, I’m Mark your tandem instructor.”

After we jumped and Mark got me back safely on the ground, I was smitten and wanted to know him better. I started asking the other drop zone employees if he was single and what would be the best way to approach him. They gave me some advice, but I needed to act fast before we left the drop zone. That’s when my friend, Nancy Kosarak, had her turn skydiving with Mark. She knew I was interested in Mark since I wouldn’t shut up about how cute he was and how much I wanted to go on a date with him. Well, Nancy had my back and as she and Mark were under parachute, she practically did an “exorcist move” and turned her head backwards and asked him “are you single?” Mark was taken aback and asked her, “didn’t you just get married?” She answered, “yes, but I’m asking for a friend.” When she told me that Mark said, “oh, you mean that cute little red head with your group?” That’s when I knew I had a shot!

Mark and I started dating about 2 months later and we have now been married for 15 years. I had prayed for God to have a good guy fall from the sky for me, but I didn’t know he took payers so literally!

This is where the story continues for 2 Miles of Smiles.

Since Mark and I were officially dating, I would occasionally visit the drop zone to hang out, especially if there was going to be a party in the evening. One such weekend was Labor Day, September 3rd, 2006. I was hanging out, when I noticed a young man getting geared up to skydive. I was drawn to this young teenager because he had a prosthetic leg and you don’t see many people skydive with a prosthetic leg. You could also tell something was ailing him, since he was thin, pale and his head was bald.

I was infatuated with this young man who was having a great time laughing with the tandem instructors and not at all showing any signs of aliment or even concern about his prosthetic leg. I wanted to know this young man’s story and I started asking around. I discovered his name was Seth, a cancer patient who had lost his right leg to osteosarcoma. He was celebrating his 18th birthday by going skydiving. He was accompanied by his mentor and friend, Shannon Hart, for this “celebration experience”.

I couldn’t take my eyes off Seth as he got geared up and headed to the plane. I watched a newfound excitement resonate though Seth as he climbed into the aircraft that would take him 13,500 ft. (a little over 2 miles) in the sky, just to drop him out of the plane and sail back to earth. When the call came over the announcement “jumpers 1 minute away,” I was fixated on the aircraft and watched as the jumpers came tumbling out. Once the parachutes starting opening I spotted Seth and his tandem master, Ernie Long, by the design on their parachute. I watched as they sailed through the sky making turns and finally getting ready for their final approach. As Seth came closer to the earth, he and Ernie lifted their legs and low and behold, they did a perfect stand up landing. Once they were on the ground, you could see the exuberance and excitement on Seth’s face by the big smile he wore. Their excitement was contagious, and it wasn’t just from having fun but from a sense of accomplishment about jumping out of a perfectly good airplane, and having new strength to help him through his cancer struggle. After watching the empowerment he had just gained, the vision of what skydiving could do for other people affiliated with cancer emerged.

Throughout that day, I had thoughts rushing into my mind about how skydiving could be used to provide courage and empowerment to cancer patients and survivors. The details, planning and even the name were pouring into my thoughts. It was so intense I knew the vision was coming from God and I was provided with the opportunity to start a nonprofit to help those afflicted with cancer find strength through skydiving.

That day, I definitely had a big push from God to start a nonprofit, but do we ever listen the first time? Usually not, but since God is good, he continually pushes us until we follow his plan for our life. I was no exception, and God provided another opportunity to ensure I had no doubt as to His plan. This is when God made sure I was at the drop zone when Seth made his 2nd skydive. I couldn’t believe I just happened to be there again for Seth’s 2nd and final skydive. I looked up to heaven and said, “Okay, God, I get it.”

Unfortunately, Seth passed away in July 2007 at the age of 19, but the vision he and God planted remained with me for 13 years. After I retired in 2019, I knew it was time to follow my purpose in life and make this vision a reality by starting 2 Miles of Smiles to help those afflicted with cancer find newfound power by living up to our mission statement:

Empowering cancer patients and survivors to find strength through skydiving, providing courage to live life fearlessly before, during or after treatment.”

2 Miles of Smiles officially became a 501 (c) (3) on May 31st, 2019 and we hosted our first event on August 30, 2019 with 18 people skydiving. I was part of the group who went skydiving at our inaugural event and my skydive was dedicated to Seth. We never met, but he touched my life with his smile and zest for life. One day, when we are both by God’s side, I look forward to telling him how he brought purpose to my life.

It’s now been close to 4 years since our 1st event and we have taken over 100 people skydiving. If you’re living with cancer and would like to join us at one of our events for your FREE skydive, apply using the web link below.


Cathy Wild
Cathy Wild
Jun 14, 2023

Such a fantastic story...although...I would have sworn it was the singles group from your church.....guess You are one fantastic and driven lady. What a way to listen to your heart and make things happen. This is truly a God given talent and God is certainly blessing this organization to help others. I love you my friend! And as far as Mark goes...Jackpot girrrrlll!


PK Texas
PK Texas
Jun 13, 2023

Awesome blog with amazing memories of our first skydive together. thank you dear friend!! Our 30th anniversary is coming up soon!! LU PK😍✈️

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