Woman, 88, soaring through bucket list, one daring feat at a time

For four years now, the self-described “crazy granny” has been systematically going through a list of daring accomplishments she wants to do before she dies.

After indoor and outdoor skydives and the EdgeWalk, octogenarian will hop in a race car next

For 50 years, Maire Hollo, 88, has been watching skydivers from afar at the Parachute School of Toronto whenever she would drive up to her cottage. (Parachute School of Toronto)

"If you're afraid, you only live half a life."

Those are words of wisdom from Maire Hollo, an 88-year-old woman who just checked skydiving off her bucket list.

The day started out looking grim. Hot and muggy. The skies opened up a few hours before the scheduled jump, raining down so hard that parts of the DVP were closed due to flooding.

The entire event was in jeopardy.

But just as Adam Mabee, president of the Parachute School of Toronto, was about to pull the cord on the jump, the sun came out. Hollo climbed onto the floor of a tiny airplane an hour north of the city, and flew off to make her dream come true.

Moments before the jump, Maire Hollo is all smiles. "I'm not nervous at all. I've been waiting a long time for this." (Ieva Lucs/CBC)

For four years now the self-described "crazy granny" has been systematically going through a list of daring accomplishments she wants to do before she dies.

88-year-old woman crosses skydiving off bucket list

5 years ago
Duration 1:56
Maire Hollo, 88, crossed skydiving off her bucket list of daring items.

The first risky endeavour for the octogenarian was the EdgeWalk at the CN Tower, when she was 84. She had dropped hints to her daughter, Susan Hollo, who ended up gifting the experience to her mom for her birthday.

The first box checked on Maire Hollo's bucket list was to experience the CN Tower's EdgeWalk. (Susan Hollo/submitted)

Susan Hollo said her mom has always been fearless.

"She's always been a little off-kilter, in a nice way of course."

Hollo pushed against the expectations of her traditional upbringing in Finland, and a controlling husband whom she married at 24.

She got her driver's licence against her husband's wishes. She was the first woman on her street to wear pants.

Maire Hollo was one of ten children from a traditional Finnish family. "I've always been different. I'm independent." (Susan Hollo/submitted)

Her husband was 16 years older than her, and died over 30 years ago. Hollo never remarried, saying she is very happy being alone.

"I don't need a man," she said.

"I enjoy my life, I can watch whatever I want on TV."

When asked what she was doing to prepare for her skydiving expedition, she said she wouldn't be doing anything out of the ordinary.

"Drink lots of coffee. And have many saunas if you can."

When Hollo went to her doctor to get a letter confirming she was fit enough to jump, he tried to talk her out of it, asking her, "What if you die?"

"I'm going to die soon anyway. You think that's going to stop me from jumping?" Hollo retorted.

Maire Hollo hugs her great-granddaughters Ava (left) and Scarlett Wontorra before the big jump. (Ieva Lucs/CBC)

With her anxious family waiting on the ground, Hollo soared down happily. Her tandem partner said she was silent the whole time, just smiling and giving the thumbs up.

"I did it! I'm so happy. It was so quiet up there, you wouldn't believe it. Beautiful," Hollo said moments after she touched down in a field in Baldwin, Ont.

After a smooth landing Maire Hollo poses for waiting cameras. (Ieva Lucs/CBC)

She got a huge hug from her great-granddaughter Ava, asking her, "Did I look like a bird?" As she walked away to get her suit off she muttered, "I'm crazy."

Although she gave up her licence two years ago, Hollo has been playing a Formula One video game at her son's house to prepare for the next event — racing a car on a closed track.

Her final piece of advice for her great-grandchildren?

"Just live your life. Be nice to people and don't hurt anybody, but do what you want to do."