Taking Charity to New Heights - Part 2

Article by:
Kevin Burkart
EO Minneapolis/St. Paul

Entrepreneurs' Organization: How did the event go? Was it everything you thought it would be?
Kevin Burkart:
The day started at 5:45 a.m. with the minimum 2,000 foot ceiling. Right away we were on a five-minute turn pace for each jump, completing 22 jumps by about 8 a.m. Then the weather worsened. We intermittently picked up 10 more jumps by 2 p.m. At that point, I knew that if the weather didn’t clear up soon, we would be 50/50 on reaching the goal.

Thankfully, the weather did turn, and we executed 68 jumps in a row, the 100th being at 8:30 p.m. With a formation load of 15 skydivers from full altitude (13,000 feet), we formed the number “100” in freefall. I landed last and got “pied” by my fellow skydivers (whip-cream pie in your face when you do something significant—like your 1,000th jump—is a tradition in skydiving).

EO: Were there any complications/surprises, or did it go smoothly?
The weather makes skydivers do stupid things, and that happened to me. Our intermittent jumps during low-ceiling periods caused me (us) to make some bad decisions. I (we) got away with it, but it was sheer luck. Jumping from too low of an altitude with very little time for an out is a bad idea. I won’t write what we did here for obvious reasons. EO members and risk— we all face it, don’t we?

EO: What was the turn-out like?
The turn out was very good, especially after 5 p.m. We had a great audience, and a lot of kids playing in the moonwalk combined to make it an energetic event. It meant a lot to me to see the hand waves from the crowd every time I took off on a jump.

The media was very kind to us, too. We were the beneficiary of a slow news day, an exciting, visual event, and a good story. Here’s a partial list of media outlets that showed up for my charity event:

  • KARE 11 Saturday morning in studio

  • Channel 5 Twin Cities Live in studio

  • Paul Harvey radio national

  • CNN national TV and radio

  • Fox News Twin Cities, Chicago, Houston and Milwaukee (live-feed interviews on site via US$5,000 satellite hook ups)

  • WCCO Radio

  • Channel 4 TV on-site live interviews

  • KARE 11 on-site live interviews

  • Pioneer Press

  • The Chicago Tribune

  • AM 1500 KSTP with Tom Mitschke

  • Comcast – Big Idea, Small Town, Live TV

  • Numerous other publications and Internet outlets have picked up the story

EO: Were you able to meet your fundraising goals?
I am happy to announce that we raised the US$45K we wanted to raise, and we increased awareness for Parkinson’s Disease in the process! A big “thanks” goes out to my EO chapter for their support; it’s just amazing what a good group of people can do. I’m lucky to be a member.

EO: What motivated you to keep jumping?
Jumps 1-22 in the morning were the most difficult. I’m not sure why but I was a bit nauseous, anxious and full of adrenaline, I suppose. Then, during the next five hours, we only got the 10 jumps in— I was psychologically and physically more anxious. I was really concerned we weren’t going to be able to reach our goal. When we went straight through from 32 to 100, those were the best jumps.

It was then that I felt really good, better than I did for the first 22 jumps. Around jump 70, I started to get giddy, which was dangerous. I had to have some talks with my friends to get myself even-keel and focused. Some of my openings were unstable, and I had some bad landings and poorly executed patterns with too many spins on the way down, which resulted in a loss of altitude.

During the final 20 jumps, I felt really good and was starting to show off for the crowd on my landings. This was fun, and I felt pretty safe. The ground crew worked the hardest. I was along for the ride, so it wasn’t too difficult for me. My motivation came from the goal of achieving 100 jumps. I didn’t have a choice. The goal was there … everything I needed to do it was there.

EO: What did you learn from this experience?
I learned that a small group of people can make a tremendous difference. The event grew far beyond me. The media swell in the last week was overwhelming. Although I was prepared for it, I was surprised by the volume of interest. I didn’t expect this much attention. I guess we all want this— for an event to grow beyond ourselves, much like an entrepreneur and his or her business. In the end, it wasn’t just me that succeeded … it was everyone that put it together to execute the 100 jumps safely.

EO: If people are still interested in donating to your cause, how can they do so?

KB: We’re still taking donations! You can donate by visiting www.perfectjumps.com today.

For photos of the event (by Daniel Rens), visit: http://aeternaphotography.com/100perfect/

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