- Contributed Daniel Vallejo started a GoFundMe in order for him to compete at the world paragliding championship in Serbia in May.

Kelowna paraglider starts fundraiser to reach international goals

Daniel Vallejo started a GoFundMe to raise $5,000

Colombia native Daniel Vallejo moved to Kelowna when he learned the Okanagan’s mountains were perfect for him to hone his paragliding skills.

Vallejo started competing in 2016 in Columbia, before representing Canada in Paragliding Accuracy competitions. He is currently ranked second in Canada and 519th in the world.

Recently, after being unable to find sponsors, he started a GoFundMe that he said will help with travel costs as he continues to compete until he can reach his goal at the world championship in Serbia in May. But first, he has to qualify.

Vallejo said he will be gliding in other competitions in order to bring his ranking into the top 500. The $5,000 he is requesting on the fundraiser will go towards travelling expenses.

RELATED: Mechanical issues force Peachland man to bow out of paraglide record attempt

It’s not something like hockey or soccer in Canada, it’s more of a club, he said. In Serbia, if he does well, he qualifies for the finals.

“Serbia, for me, is like the world champions before the world games,” Vallejo said. “It’s just the best of the best.”

The 26-year-old has been in Canada since he was 16, but didn’t take up the sport until heartbreak led him to ask his father, a fellow paraglider, to teach him.

After starting lessons in a field, “my dad, he told me, ‘you’re going to learn with an actual instructor’… he didn’t want me to go (through) what he went through,” he said, adding his father broke his legs learning the sport.

Vallejo comes from a family of paragliders, his father and mother are both judges in Columbia.

“My first competition had over 48 pilots and I ranked 18,” he said. His father, Walter, taught him to respect his natural surroundings and to learn from it.

“It’s not just going and flying. We don’t belong (in the sky.) If we go there we need to respect it, we need to respect the landscape, we need to respect the property and the people… it’s an extreme sport, you need to do it with caution,” Vallejio said.

The paraglider competes in accuracy competitions, where he glides from a mountain top, to a marked landing zone. “Imagine playing darts, you have to hit in the centre,” Vallejo said.

“The feeling is right away you get nervous right? Every time I take off I’m always nervous, but it’s like a good rush. You don’t let that turn into panic. When you’re competing, obviously you’re so focused, I have to talk to myself,” he said.

RELATED: Okanagan men complete first leg in flight of their lives

“You feel that rush, even though up there it’s colder, you don’t feel cold.

You feel hot, you’re blood is pumping… plus the feeling of nothing holding you. Everyone dreams of eventually (flying,) with paragliding, you can achieve that… You feel free.”

Vallejo would like to see paragliding accuracy competitions in the Olympics.

“It’s awesome to represent Canada already,” he said. “Even though I’m from Columbia… Spanish is my main language, but I think in English, talk in English… when I represent Canada in these competitions, I feel like I’m representing my home country.”

“You feel proud, you feel like you do more, and eventually (hope to) be recognized for everyone.”

@carliberry_
carli.berry@kelownacapnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

 

Daniel Vallejo with his girlfriend Luz Angela Garcia. The paraglider is currently ranked second in Canada. - Contributed

Just Posted

Rockets look to bounce back with win against Prince George

Rockets look for 9th win of the season after back to back losses

Kelowna’s definitive Christmas market list

We’ve prepared a list of every market in the Central Okanagan

RCMP search for stolen 5th wheel travel trailer

The trailer was said to be stolen from West Kelowna on Nov. 9

West Kelowna ranks sixth in Expedia coziest city list

Osoyoos and Vernon also made the cut

West Kelowna Warriors strengthen defense with trade

Warriors aquire Austin Chorney from the Vernon Vipers

VIDEO: Amazon to split second HQ between New York, Virginia

Official decision expected later Tuesday to end competition between North American cities to win bid and its promise of 50,000 jobs

Kuhnhackl scores 2 odd goals as Isles dump Canucks 5-2

Vancouver drops second game in two nights

Stink at B.C. school prompts complaints of headaches, nausea

Smell at Abbotsford school comes from unauthorized composting operation

Fear of constitutional crisis escalates in U.S.; Canadians can relate

Some say President Donald Trump is leading the U.S. towards a crisis

B.C.-based pot producer Tilray reports revenue surge, net loss

Company remains excited about ‘robust’ cannabis industry

Canada stands pat on Saudi arms sales, even after hearing Khashoggi tape

Khashoggi’s death at Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Istanbul further strained Riyadh’s already difficult relationship with Ottawa

Feds pledge money for young scientists, but funding for in-house research slips

Canada’s spending on science is up almost 10 per cent since the Liberals took office, but spending on in-house research is actually down

Police in Vernon catch suspects after armed robbery in Salmon Arm

Victims told police they were robbed at knife point near an ATM

Disabled boy has ‘forgiven’ bullies who walked on him in stream, mom says

A Cape Breton teen who has cerebral palsy was told to lie in a stream as other kids walked over him

Most Read