Skydiving for charity


Recently I wrote about how sometimes in life we can pick activities that combine adventure and service. Or other times we do something adventurous that has nothing to do with charity or service. And some acts of service aren’t really adventurous at all.

I usually think of skydiving as adventurous but without any value other than being fun and a personal challenge.

But a few weeks ago I went to Frankfort, IN to work as part of a ground crew at a skydiving event. Jay Stokes was attempting to set the record for the most jumps in 24 hours and, at the same time, he used the event as a fundraiser for a series of charities.


How many jumps?

Jay, who is a former US Army Green Beret, has the previous record of 640 jumps in 24 hours, which works out to about one jump every two minutes and fifteen seconds. His plan was to break his own record with a goal of 700 jumps in 24 hours.


Everyone has a role

Many skydivers worked on the ground crew in shifts throughout the day. My job was to do a final inspection on the parachute rig and carry it to where the next plane was waiting. After Jay landed from the previous jump other ground crew helped him take off his parachute.

Then he ran over to the plane which was stopped on the runway with it’s engine running. I helped him put on a fresh rig and he climbed back in the plane for another jump.

Some volunteers spent their time repacking the parachutes while others did something as simple as holding a step underneath the open door of the plane so Jay could climb in. Inside the plane another skydiver acted as jump master and was waiting to make a final inspection on Jay’s gear.

Everyone had a role, no matter how big or small.


Lessons are everywhere

1) Details matter. Every strap, buckle, and handle were checked several times. The leg straps on parachute rigs are all adjustable for different size skydivers. But we didn’t want to take the time to adjust the straps each time Jay put on a rig.

The leg straps were marked before the start of the event so we could look and make sure they were the right length for Jay without further adjustment. A small detail but it was a big time saver.

2) People are glad to help. Even though I didn’t make any jumps, it was fun to be part of such a unique event and I could tell the other skydivers felt the same way.

3) It’s inspiring to see someone do something amazing because it helps us think of our own ideas about what we might be able to do.

4) Not every effort in life is successful. Jay made 292 jumps before calling it quits because of bad weather and a hard landing after he hit some turbulence from a thunder storm. That number of jumps is still pretty amazing and I doubt if his record will be broken anytime soon.

5) Opportunities for charity and service are everywhere. The record attempt was a great adventure by itself, Jay has used it over the years to raise thousands of dollars for charity.


Find your own opportunity

Most of won’t be attempting to break any skydiving records. But we can help in our own way whether we create our own event or help someone else. For example, while you’re thinking of your own project you can support someone like Joel Runyon.

Joel just completed an ultra marathon in the Patagonia International Marathon as part of his fund raising effort. He’s going to run an ultra marathon on each of the seven continents to help build schools in developing countries. He has six more races scheduled over the next year.

He’s well on his way to raising $175,000 and you can donate here.



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