As the super-otter aircraft climbs through the clouds, the energy in the plane is palpable. First-time skydivers and veterans of the sport, all giddy for the oncoming rush of wind and velocity, ready themselves for their leap into the vast blue yonder waiting just outside the plane’s door. For the skilled staff of Triangle Skydiving Center, that feeling is the reason they come to work every morning. Whether they're plunging themselves and a harnessed patron through midair at 13,500 feet or selling high-quality parachute equipment in the gear store, they're dedicated to helping customers find that thrill that previously was only attained by shrinking the kids and living vicariously through them as they spelunk from picnic tables.
In 1995, a group of families with children struck by CDH came together to form Cherubs, an organization designed to provide support and information to those touched by the condition. CDH, or congenital diaphragmatic hernia, is a rare condition that causes a malformation in a gestating fetus's diaphragm. The diaphragm either forms with holes or doesn't form at all, allowing the abdominal organs into the chest cavity and hindering the growth of the lungs. Roughly 50% of babies born with this heartbreaking condition don't survive, and those who do survive suffer from numerous and costly medical issues. As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, Cherubs helps families—more than 4,300 across the world, at current count—understand and persevere through the issues of CDH, while supporting efforts to find the cause and develop treatments for the condition.
One of the ways they achieve this is through their annual Masquerading Angels Ball, a formal event punctuated by elegant masks, live music, and plenty of libations. There, tuxedoed men and gowned women savor gourmet appetizers and cocktails from a cash bar as they play poker and blackjack at casino tables, all in an effort to fight a tragic children's medical condition.
A love for the water came naturally to Nicole Steele thanks to a childhood spent frolicking in it with her family. A love for teaching resulted from years of competitive gymnastics, where she pushed herself past self-imposed limits thanks to encouraging coaches. At PhoenixWake Academy, Nicole gets a chance to combine her passions as a wakeboarding instructor. Day camps, private and group lessons, and clinics help pupils grasp the basics of boating and wakeboarding or complete difficult tricks thanks to patient coaching from Nicole and two other experienced teachers.
Kidventurez is a blank canvas where children's ideas spring to life. As the mind behind the creative space, owner Stephanie Walker used her own experience as a mother to concoct the facility. "I really love the whole concept of kids using their minds to play," she told Midtown Raleigh News.
Inside, pintsized visitors hop across various stations that spur ingenuity, such as the performing stage, where they can put on plays for friends, and Kenzie's Kitchen, where they can practice burning fake popcorn in a fake microwave. Smaller children enjoy the freedom of Toddler Town's scaled-down attractions, and parents, similarly, enjoy the freedom of either sitting back and watching playtime unfold or leaving for a short respite.
The licensed and insured fishing guides from Outdoor Expeditions USA, LLC have cast countless lures into the waters of Jordan Lake and Harris Lake. Their target? Largemouth bass. They lead fishing trips in search of the popular game fish aboard their Triton 20HP Pro, which can seat two fisherman, one guide, and as many fish as the three can juggle.
Lissette Brandao has a wealth of national and international experience, including spending her college career at Rutgers, playing semi-professionally in the US, and playing internationally for the Portuguese Women's National Team. But she doesn't keep everything she's learned to herself. Instead, she teaches youngsters and high-schoolers the world's game, from basics to advanced, through team training, camps, and private lessons. To ensure she delivers the highest possible quality to the youth she teaches, she has certifications from organizations such as the National Soccer Coaches Association of America and the US Soccer Federation.