Headline: A skydiver finds his calling, and “Jump for Jaclyn” is born
By Michael J. Lewis
James Dickson was like everybody else who tries skydiving for the first time.
“I just had it on my bucket list, to see what all the fuss was about and why people talked about it being so amazing,” he recalled.
In 1997, when Dickson first jumped, he felt that thrill. But unlike most people (including the author of this article, who jumped once in 2009 and loved it, but isn’t crazy enough to do it again), he kept jumping. And jumping, and jumping.
For him, leaping out of a perfectly-good airplane 10,000 feet up in the sky isn’t just a thrill.
It’s a way of practicing his favorite sport.
“You’re having an experience with a group of people that not everyone gets to have, it’s like nothing else you can ever do,” Dickson said. “I want to give that feeling of diving to as many people as I can.”
Dickson has been skydiving for the past two decades, and like millions of us, he has sadly had family and friends die due to cancer over the years, including a 6-year-old cousin who died from a glioblastoma.
So when he first learned of Friends of Jaclyn through his friend Tom Falzone, the head coach of the Golden Knights Parachute team at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, he was excited.
Two years ago Falzone and his team participated in an FOJ adoption of Andrew Stevens, and Dickson thought there might be a way to use skydiving to help raise money for FOJ.
“I’d always wanted to find a way to give back, and once I learned about FOJ, I said, ‘this is what I’ve been looking for!’” Dickson said.
And so in 2016, the “Jump for Jaclyn” was born. Approximately 40 divers, both experienced and brand-new, raised money for weeks before finally jumping from the clouds in honor of FOJ. This year, Dickson and FOJ are expecting an even bigger event.
On Aug. 6 at the NuCavu Restaurant in Wallkill, N.Y. (about 40 miles from Poughkeepsie), approximately 100 divers so far have signed up to take the plunge.
After raising $9,000 last year, Dickson said they’ve set a goal of $30,000 this year.
“The response has fantastic, from people who are generally pretty scared of something like this, to my friends in the diving community who know what a fantastic cause FOJ supports,” Dickson said. “Last year we got Taryn Murphy (sister of FOJ inspiration and co-founder Jaclyn Murphy) to jump, maybe we can get the rest of the Murphy family to jump, too.”
This year’s “Jump for Jaclyn” begins at 9 a.m., with a limited number of same-day registrations available (all first-time jumpers must do a tandem jump with an experienced diver).
To register to jump and help raise money as part of the event, email Jumpforjaclyn@gmail.com, and go to the GoFundMe.com page and search for Jump for Jaclyn Pediatric Cancer.
You’ll be helping a fantastic cause, and get a thrill of a lifetime at the same time. Pretty good way to spend a Sunday!