Rowena Owens found a truly breathtaking way to honor her nephew, Edward Sayer one sunny day last September by jumping out of a plane 13,000 feet above Kent, England, near her home.
“Heights don’t really scare me,” said 59-year-old Rowe, pictured above. “I did expect to feel nervous but it was more a feeling of sheer excitement.” In fact, Rowe’s husband Jack was more nervous than she was. An emergency room nurse, Rowe didn’t hesitate, even after signing a disclaimer. Her bravery paid off and she raised $1,500 for the
Foundation, Ed’s favorite charity.

Ed and his sister Binky sport his favorite color, pink.

That fearless, can-do attitude seems to run in the family. In spite of his CF, Edward was willing to try almost anything at least once. His mother Tamar recalled, “Telling him no just made him all the more determined.”
Originally from Scotland, the Sayers visited the U.S. when Edward was in the seventh grade to see if his health improved. It did, so the family settled in Voorheesville.
Ed’s passions in life were chemistry and swimming. Always ambitious, he received a B.S. undergraduate degree from Clarkson, where he was halfway through his MBA in 2005 when, at the age of 22, Ed passed away while waiting for a double-lung transplant. True to form, Ed never gave up. At the time of his death he was looking forward to pursuing his PhD in organic chemistry while coaching the GuilderVille swim team, which he did right up until three days before he died.
“He was a remarkable young man who touched everyone he met,” said Tamar. “When he died, over 400 people showed up to the celebration of his life, all wearing his favorites, pink and plaid.”
In a thank you letter sent to the Foundation, Ed wrote: “In an ideal world, I would be healthy enough to be working…I hope that once I am healthy enough again (post-transplant) I will be able to get involved and help the foundation.”
Lisa Cheney, Foundation vice president, remarked that, “Ed’s family and friends have always been very generous, and they continue to make his wishes come true. Their support goes a long way in allowing us to do what we do.”
Swimathons, a music-by-campfire summer celebration/fundraiser, and a 5K race have been organized in Ed’s memory. Tallied with his aunt’s parachute jump, more than $15,000 has been donated to the Foundation in his memory.
According to his younger sister Virginia (aka Binky), “Edward Sayer believed in magic. Not witches, or wizards, – but he found the magic in those he loved…and embodied compassion, integrity and a wicked sense of humor. Of course, he understood the weight of the world, but he always preferred to enjoy the lighter side of life. His character and bravery inspired those who loved him to battle in the front lines next to him. We believed in Edward, and he made us all believe in magic.”
Ed Sayer also made his aunt believe she could fly.

Posted on:  September 7, 2010