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Skydiver aiming to fly high after tragic low
Buy this photo » Gemma Harris and Aaron Jnr with friend Ollie Marter who is taking part in the skydive
GEMMA Harris is a woman who knows all about lows.
Her partner was murdered, and her son was diagnosed with autism seven years after she first tried to convince doctors of his condition.
However, the fearless campaigner is ready to experience one of life’s most exhilarating highs.
The mum-of-one is preparing to jump out of a plane at 10,000 ft to raise money for the National Autistic Society.
Ms Harris, 28, said the last few years had been tough, dealing with the death of musician partner Aaron Buron 18 months ago as well as her son’s condition.
However, day-by-day, she has fought back and now wants to repay the support of the charity which has helped her during her darkest moments.
The Temple Cowley resident will head to Brackley in October with her friend Ollie Marter to take part in the jump.
She has set up a Facebook page and has asked Oxfordshire residents to get behind her efforts.
Ms Harris, who is a teaching assistant and has also modelled, said: “The National Autistic Society have been utterly fantastic, helping me fill in forms, everything.
“I think that everyone should know about the work they do.”
And of her forthcoming jump she said: “I’m not bothered by heights, I’d even do a bungee jump. It was just something that I thought ‘yeah, go on then’.
“We’ll be going something like 120mph. I’m actually looking forward to it, and have dragged a mate along as well.”
She says that she had known eight-year-old Aaron Jay, known as AJ, had learning difficulties since he was a baby, but she was unable to get appropriate help until he was finally diagnosed this year.
Previously, she was told AJ was suffering from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), but she wasn’t satisfied and kept asking doctors to reassess him.
Ms Harris said: “He doesn’t misbehave, and he isn’t naughty, but I knew that something wasn’t right.
“He was behind at school, behind on things, and it just didn’t seem to add up.
“Losing Aaron was the hardest thing ever. Even now it still causes me pain and I won’t say it is better, but I have something to concentrate on and by doing charity work and helping AJ, that is my lifeline.”
AJ goes back to school today at St Christopher’s primary in Cowley.
Ms Harris said she wanted to show him that she would do anything for him, and the charity that has helped them.
She is hoping to raise £395 in sponsorship she needs to take part but added: “To be honest, if I don’t hit the sum I’ll just put the money in myself, that’s how keen I am to do something for them.
“Any time I get scared I think ‘what would his dad think, looking down’?”
“He wouldn’t want me to be scared and he’d want AJ to be proud. Christmas was the worst time, but it’s a new year now, and a new positive start.”
Aaron Buron was just two days short of 30 when he was stabbed to death by teenager Haydan O’Callaghan in March 2012.
O’Callaghan was sentenced to life in prison in October last year with a minimum of 21 years.
- To support Ms Harris see facebook.com/groups/ 556320227760026/
- To find out about the National Autistic Society see autism.org.uk