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In honor of her late father, local Bell Bank employee uses 'Pay it Forward' to fund veterans' skydiving trips

WEST FARGO—The skies were clear, and the wind was perfect for a evening of skydiving. Sheila Carter was out there to enjoy skydiving for the first time, but this evening meant more.

Carter is an employee at Bell Bank and receives $1,000 from them yearly to contribute to the community through their Pay It Forward program. This year she used the money to pay for four veterans' skydiving trips in honor of her father who served in Vietnam and died October 2017.

"I thought what would my dad be most proud of and I think paying it forward to some vets and letting them experience something that they've never done before," said Carter.

For these veterans, this was an experience that they had never encountered before and Air National Guard veteran Steve Crawford says it's something he couldn't miss out on.

"She asked me if I would be interested in skydiving with some other veterans and I absolutely jumped at the chance. It's one of those bucket list items and I didn't even think twice about it," said Crawford.

An armed forces and National Guard veteran Troy DeBerg said this kind of opportunity shows appreciation for veterans.

"I think it's very important for veterans, it's certainly builds morale. It shows we're appreciated, not by all, but by most. It helps us know we are not doing anything in vain, or serving this country in vain and it's appreciated by a lot of people," said DeBerg.

Each veteran is going to receive $100 from Bell Bank so they can pay it forward to charity or their own program.

DeBerg is planning to donate his money to the Fargo Vet Center.

Crawford's idea currently?

"Nothing really yet," he said with a chuckle. "I still have an adrenaline high from jumping, but I'm going to think about it tonight and tomorrow and do something as soon as I can."

Two skydiving travelers with Down for 50 will also visit Skydive Fargo tomorrow. Fargo will be their North Dakota spot in their journey to skydive in all 50 states.

For each state visited, they have a goal of raising $1,000 for Operation Enduring Warrior, a nonprofit program that helps rehabilitate wounded veterans.

They encourage veterans to come watch as well as participate in the jump.

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