When decorated Korean War paratrooper John “Red” Pelan turned 77 in 2008, he had an unusual request for his family and friends. He wanted to jump out of a plane again.
Years after his successful birthday jump, more than 40 people carried on that tradition at Skydive Long Island in Calverton Sunday afternoon, leaping out of planes as part of “Reckless with Red,” an annual skydiving event that raises funds for mental health services for returning veterans.
The fundraiser, now in its sixth year, was named in honor of Mr. Pelan, who served with the 187th Infantry Regiment. Mr. Pelan, like many returning veterans, suffered the effects of untreated post-traumatic stress disorder, event organizers said. The annual jump was founded to raise funds for the Veterans Health Alliance of Long Island, which works to help veterans with mental health and substance abuse issues.
More than 100 people joined the event this year, said organizer and frequent skydiver Rich Muscolino, including 42 tandem skydivers who raised money by having friends and family sponsor their jumps.
The event has raised more than $75,000 for the organization since it began; The event raised about $15,000 last year alone, and each year it gets bigger, Mr. Muscolino said.
“This year we might be in the running to beat that,” he said.