Marlena Katene is well known to regular Blank readers. She writes for us. She’s campaigned for matting for wheelchair users (which have since been installed at Burleigh Beach) and if you frequent Gold Coast markets you might have seen her beside a jumping castle running her small business. The one she runs when she’s not at the Aria Awards doing red carpet interviews or dancing on stage with people like Pharell Williams or interviewing people like John Butler.
All that aside, this month she made a name for herself doing something even more extraordinary.
She became the first person in the world – with cerebral palsy – to base jump, joining a lucky group of base jumpers who were given access to the KL Tower in Kuala Lumpur as part of an organized base jumping event.
Watch Marlena’s jump and then read on:
Marlena said, from KL that her passion for base jumping is just an extension of sky-diving, which she first did for her 21st birthday.
“While I understand it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, it’s something which is fun,” she said.
“To be honest it was over way too quick but it was such a rush.”
“There were so many talented athletes here that are the best at what they do.”
Marlena jumped in tandem with professional base jumper Sean Chuma which she said allowed her to literally “sit back and embrace the adrenalin.”
“And the tranquility,” she said. “While some may associate it as a risky endeavor it is fairly safe and the people that embark in this activity consider every variable and ensure safety is at the foremost part for participants.”
Marlena is the first person in the world with cerebral palsy to base jump. She says her only option was to go tandem.
“In my personal and business life I have a motto ‘everyone or anything is accessible you just have to give people a reason to access you’. The connection to base jump was simply done via social media. I initially saw a very cool video clip and then found out the guys responsible for base jumping.”
So she made contact with Sean Chuma and simply asked if it would be possible and he told her to come to Idaho to see. That didn’t happen, but just two weeks before the KL event, he contacted Marlena and said if she could get to Kuala Lumpur he could make it happen.
So she did.
“I sent him video links of my skydive and it was on,” she said.
“I scrambled and got cheap airfares and we did it”
“There were a few hurdles to overcome but nothing major and both myself and Sean had a blast doing the jump.”
So…. Is Marlena actually a little bit mad?
“Maybe…. The tests are yet to come back!”
“Call me crazy but I am HOOKED, it will not be the last time,” Marlena said.
“Some people see base jumping as playing with death and people fear it. I get that stepping over the ledge takes a little guts.”
“When I look around the room of 120 jumpers though I don’t think they fear death at all. If there is any fear in the room it is the fear of not living life every day like it matters.”
“Having footage will hopefully help me facilitate a few friends to join me in future years. Some of my friends think I am crazy but they didn’t need me to base jump to come to that conclusion.”
“The feedback has been amazing and hopefully I can use this experience in future talks to help people have a laugh and challenge people to do something unique and fun in their own lives.”
Photos and video used with permission of Marlena Katene.