Terminally ill woman inspires with bucket list skydive

Carrie Larsen

OSAGE CITY, Kan. (WIBW) -- While many of us have a bucket list to eventually cross items off of, a Topeka woman only had one item on hers, and with possibly days left to live, was able to conquer it Wednesday.

After battling Pancreatic Cancer for two years, it was time for 53-year-old Pam Santaniello to take on one more adventure; the biggest and most daring one yet.

"This is something I always remember she wanted to do. She's always been really adventurous," said Santaniello's daughter Illya Engle.

Santaniello was diagnosed with the terminal cancer in December 2013. She went into remission, but it recently came back.

She is now in a wheelchair, but Engle knew how important it was to find a way to make her mother's dream come true, and found Jeremy Struemph with Skydive Kansas.

"I did my first jump back here in 2005 and knew right away that I was hooked, and that I wanted to help people and take people on skydives," said Struemph.

Now having done 3,000 skydives, a few of those jumps with paraplegics, Struemph was ready to not only make a lasting memory happen for Santaniello and her family, but one for him as well. He lost his mother to Pancreatic Cancer.

"Some of them (skydives) are a little more rewarding, and this is definitely one of those. It's up there," said Struemph.

After testing Santaniello's mobility, and strapping her into a jumpsuit, it was time to fly.

"It is a beautiful day and it's the first time in my life that I will ever go skydiving. I'm really happy about that," said Santaniello.

"On the plane ride up, she was definitely saying she was getting nervous, but kept giving us the thumbs up. When she exited the plane, she got right through the door, which was great. The free-fall portion was really good. She enjoyed the canopy ride down and kind of seeing everything in a different perspective," said Struemph.

Engle said this is something her mother definitely deserved.