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The legacy of the North Dakota skydiving legend lives on in the skies – InForum

WEST FARGO — On a clear day, you can probably enjoy the majestic sight of skydivers soaring over West Fargo. It's all thanks to one man, Donald Solberg, and his passion for promoting the sport in North Dakota.

As the propellers turn at West Fargo Airport, a group of thrill seekers prepare to do something many would not do.

“He believed that everyone should have the opportunity to skydive if they wanted to. And I think if he were standing here today, he would be so proud of his legacy,” said Megean Solberg.

These brave souls are taking advantage of a vision from Donald Solberg.

“Thirty years ago, he was one of the founding members. He was also really passionate about skydiving. He believed that everyone should be able to skydive. He was just really passionate about skydiving in the entire skydiving community,” said Craig Graf, president of Skydive Fargo.

Donald Solberg died earlier this year after a battle with vascular Parkinson's disease. His daughter then set up a foundation in his honor that gives one person each year the chance to experience the thrill he felt thousands of times. The first recipient was a concerned Lindsey Larsen.

“I was really nervous driving down the gravel road and my heart started racing. So I'm extremely nervous,” she said.

For Lindsey, who grew up near the airport, this is an opportunity that has fulfilled her bucket list. Her unique encounter with Don Solberg and a gold-plated Mickey Mouse watch from decades ago have made this opportunity even sweeter.

“And Don was literally running along the trenches and into the field, constantly going back and forth. So I stopped to ask him what he was doing and he said he lost a watch while skydiving. So I stopped to help him and tried to look for this watch in a field. I remembered who he was because I remember that day really, really well,” Larsen said.

The watch was never found. But after a battle with Mother Nature, they believe Don Solberg may have something to do with the clearing of the skies at dusk.

“When you're at 10,000 to 12,000 feet and you're getting ready to jump or you look out, it doesn't really look real, you know? You just can't see individual cars or anything. You can see the city of Fargo. You can see Mapleton. It's really a peaceful thing,” Graf said.

As Larsen soars through the air, a lasting memory is created in honor of Don Solberg.

“It was really incredible,” Larsen said after landing.

The Donald J. Solberg North Dakota Legacy Skydiving Foundation will accept applications for its annual skydive in April. Visit the Skydive Fargo website for more information.

Sam Goetzinger joined WDAY News as a reporter and anchor in 2022 after graduating from St. Cloud State University. Before heading off to college, Sam worked alongside his father in the radio industry for 10 years in his hometown of New Prague, Minnesota. In addition to his news duties, Sam also serves as a live commentator for high school track and field teams in North Dakota and Minnesota.

Reach Sam at sgoetzinger@wday.com or follow him on X.

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