ATLANTA — It was a warm Sunday evening in late June. Movement arts teacher, Connie Palmer, decided to go skydiving as she has done for 13 years now.
Except for this time, things were different. The 35-year-old aerial performer got into an accident after deploying her parachute.
As she explains on her social media, she doesn't remember anything after entering her landing pattern, until after surgery the next day.
"All my friends on the ground said that I just didn't do anything and rode it right into the ground," she told 11Alive. "I didn't have a malfunction. I just don't remember, I really don't remember what happened.”
She explains that she couldn't remember to pull on the handles off her parachute that serve as breaks, also called flaring. In turn, she hit the ground, and broke her lower back, legs, got a concussion, and injured her lungs.
“I am bedbound. So I have not stood on my own feet for four weeks now," she said. "Not being able to just get up and walk across the room or get up and stretch is really challenging. I’m definitely stir crazy and ready to get up again."
Palmer has been a professional circus artist for 13 years and started out as a magician's assistant in Atlanta, "many moons ago." She then became an aerialist and fire performer. More recently, she began transitioning into stunt work, too.
Palmer is hopeful to be back up and moving soon but it will come with expenses.
She’s already had multiple surgeries, which have added up to at least $78,000 to date, her loved ones said. Her transportation to get to and from her medical appointments isn’t covered by her insurance, either, according to Palmer.
“I can’t sit or stand so I can’t be moved in a vehicle. I have to be put on a gurney," she explained. "I'm in a bit of a holding pattern right now. The orthopedic surgeon is trying to give me the very best chance that she can with my ankle, my ankle is in pretty bad shape. A lot of orthopedic surgeons recommended fusing my ankle entirely."
The one message she wants to get across, however, is that her love for the movement arts isn’t going anywhere and others shouldn't be discouraged by her incident.
“I don’t want this to deter anybody from doing a skydive. This was an accident that I had in a sport that I’ve been in for 13 years," she said. "So if people want to skydive or ride horses or ride motorcycles or do any of the other things that are like stunt related, I think they should still try it. This could have happened to me like you know walking down the road.”
In just three days, her fundraiser - which as of Friday night has a goal of $100,000 - has raised more than $20,000.
"The dollar amount that was put on it was based off of my hospital bills, and then the expected transport bills and out-of-pocket costs just to cover most of my medical care until after my surgery," she said.
The fundraiser was started by her friend. Palmer said she feels the support all the way from her hospital mattress.
"Oh, my gosh, I already was blown away when Julia just wanted to create the fundraiser. And then I can't believe that it's gotten to where it is. So, anyone that would consider donating, I would just be eternally grateful. I just don't know what else to say. Other than that, I'm grateful," she said.
To donate, click here.