Paraplegic US House candidate skydives for veterans

MILLINOCKET, Maine (AP) — A paraplegic man from Maine who is making a bid for the U.S. House brought the concept of campaign stunts to new heights Friday when he jumped out of an airplane in support of veterans.

Republican Dale Crafts, a former state representative, made the jump from 11000 feet (3,350 meters) in the early afternoon at Millinocket Regional Airport in the northern part of the state. He is running against Democratic Rep. Jared Golden, himself a Marine veteran.

Crafts landed safely after the plunge and said he can now “cross it off the bucket list.”

The candidate for Maine’s 2nd Congressional District said he took the leap to raise money for the Pine Grove Program, a Maine organization that provides free outdoor experiences for veterans, military members and disaster victims. Crafts has been paraplegic since a motorcycle accident in 1983.

Crafts and Golden are in a closely watched race in a swing district. Golden won the seat in 2018. A spokesman for Golden said the congressman “fully appreciates all efforts to raise funds to benefit his fellow veterans,” and pointed to Golden’s efforts, such as bringing a 24-bed U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs substance abuse and mental health treatment facility to Maine.

Organizers of Friday’s event said Crafts was assisted by Chris Tyll, a former Navy SEAL; and Brad Farrin, the former command chief master sergeant for the Maine Air National Guard. Farrin took the jump along with Dale. Both men were accompanied by a jumpmaster — an expert skydiver — who was strapped to their backs.

Maine Republicans have some recent history with daredevil jumps. Former President George H.W. Bush celebrated his 90th birthday by making a tandem parachute jump near his summer home in Maine in 2014. Bush made the jump despite having lost the use of his legs.

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