Woods to host skydiving fundraiser

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By Brandon Mattingly

Troy Woods made a name for himself in Washington County last summer when he broke the state record for skydive jumps in a single day (80) at Arnold’s Airport in Springfield. Woods will be back on June 1 with a different mission, but it will be a day filled with skydiving once again.

Woods and at least 20 other skydivers will take part in a Canopies for Kids event, which will provide teddy bears for sick children at Kentucky Children’s Hospital. “The bravest stuffed teddy bears in the world,” as they’re referred to on the campaign’s web site, have become a way for adrenaline junkies and spectators alike to help kids in need by providing more than just a financial donation.

Woods heard about the program from a co-worker who’d seen it featured on a national news program, and immediately thought it was something he may be able to organize here. He said Bill Hardin quickly agreed to allow Woods to host the event in the Jumping for Fun drop zone, and skydivers from across Kentucky, Indiana and Ohio just as quickly agreed to jump on board with the idea.

Canopies for Kids’ biggest local supporter may be Woods’ 11-year-old daughter, Christina, who was as eager to jump at the opportunity as her dad.

“I asked my daughter, ‘Why do you want to do this?’, and she said, ‘I want to see the smile on the kids’ faces,’” he said. “That pretty much hits on it. It’s not about skydiving. It’s about giving back to the kids.”

Woods promised the event would provide plenty of entertainment, and there are options that allow everyone to participate. If you’re a skydiver, you can simply purchase and jump with your own bear. If you’re not a skydiver, but want to jump, you can schedule a tandem jump for the day of the event. There is also the option to donate a bear and remain safely on the ground while one of the veteran jumpers makes the trip, which Woods said the group of skydivers is more than ready to do. Even if you miss out on the chance to donate, the community is encouraged to come out and watch the all-day event.

“The more, the better,” Woods said of the potential crowd. “Even if you don’t want to be a part of it, you’re more than welcome to come out and watch and see a bunch of crazy guys jumping out of an airplane.”

Those who donate bears and are in attendance the day of the event will also have the option of personalizing a card that comes with each bear. Apart from seeing crazy guys jumping out of airplanes and giving back for a good cause, it promises to truly be a show with a twist to many of the jumps.

Woods said he’ll unveil a 500-foot American flag on some of his jumps, and that skydiving smoke will be in full effect. He also said that one jumper has even purchased a bear costume that he’ll jump in to really hold true to the occasion. Food will also be available on site throughout the day.

As far as what Woods is hoping to accomplish with the fundraiser, he’s vowed that 50 bears would be donated, even if he had to buy the remainder himself. He’s shooting for much higher than that, however.

“The hospital has 50 bears, and I just don’t think it would be fair if we didn’t donate at least 50,” he said. “I’m hoping we sell 100.”

When Woods looked at his situation and those of the other skydivers that he’s gotten involved, he said it doesn’t even matter if none of them have been personally affected by having a child with a serious illness, because helping kids is something that anyone would readily support.

“I can’t imagine,” he said. “In my family, all of the kids are in great health. Most of all of the skydivers’ kids are in great health, but we still want to help. I can’t imagine what the parents have to go through when their kids are in the hospital with some of the diseases that they have.”

The Canopies for Kids event will begin at 8 a.m. on Saturday, June 1 at Arnold’s Airport. The deadline to donate a bear is May 25. Anyone wanting to donate can visit www.jumpingforfunskydiving.com and click on the calendar. Donors interested in doing a tandem jump should contact Jumping for Fun to schedule their jump.

Canopies for Kids was created by Matt Kuikman and Taryn McKay of Chicago in 2011. Visit www.canopiesforkids.com to find out more.