Leaping for Lupus

Local dentist Brian Juel defied death for a good cause - his daughter Brianna.

Juel jumped out of an airplane at 13,000 feet Sunday, Aug. 23, above Sanderson Field in Shelton as part of the Leap for Lupus Foundation, a sky-diving group that donates all proceeds from its sky dives to lupus research at the University of Washington's rheumatology department.

Juel's daughter, now 25, was diagnosed with lupus five years ago.

Lupus, or systemic lupus erythematosus, is an autoimmune disease that attacks the body's cells and tissue with symptoms that vary from person to person.

Brianna takes seven medications a day, but Juel is optimistic that a new drug, Benlysta, could serve as the first new treatment for lupus in more than 50 years.

"One hundred percent of funds raised goes toward research of things like this," he said.

Juel has raised $1,815 for the organization so far, through friends, family and patients, with Brianna initially sponsoring him to make the leap for his birthday.

"I remembered hearing somewhere that you should give memories not materialistic things, so I started to investigate tandem sky diving because I knew he had always wanted to go," Brianna said.

"The Leap for Lupus thing was just the icing on the cake."

Juel who had never been sky diving before, remained calm through the whole experience.

"It was peaceful, but don't ask me why," he joked.

"I wasn't nervous at all."

Juel jumped in tandem with Skydive Kapowsin employee Scott Harper.

"I can't say I jumped because I was attached to this guy but maybe 'drop' is more appropriate."

Their freefall lasted

about 40 seconds.

"Once you are stabilized, he'll tap your arms to arch your back and spread out your arms," Juel said.

"It was a wonderful trip. We saw rainbows as we dropped."

Both landed on their feet with Brianna waiting for them on the ground.

Now the questions lies in if he'll go again.

"I'm trying to get all my kids to go, but I already know my wife won't go," he said.

"I'm sure my insurance provider would say once is enough, but we'll see .... It was a good fundraiser, and I had an awesome time."

"I'm glad that I came across the Leap for Lupus Foundation. He has always wanted to go tandem diving and will never forget the experience and doing something for a cause I believe leaves a person with a lingering sense of accomplishment," Brianna said.

Juel still is taking donations for lupus research. He plans to match $1,000 of the almost $2,000 he has raised so far from his jump.

Donations can be left at Juel's office, 321-B N. Sequim Ave., 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Thursday and 7 a.m.-4 p.m. Friday or by donating directly through Leap for Lupus at

Reach Matthew Nash at

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