On June 4, 2008, the stage was set as Kevin Burkart performed 100 skydives in one day and raised over $48,000 for Parkinson’s Disease. The pace was one jump every 4 minutes 56 seconds. The first event was dubbed, "The 100 Perfect Jumps for Parkinson Disease."
The second event was called, "The 200 Perfect Jumps for Parkinson Disease." On June 16, 2010, Kevin returned to the skies, determined to set the bar even higher at 200 skydives in 24 hours. Weather was inclement as thick fog hampered the effort. Undeterred, Kevin tightened his schedule and was able to perfect 150 jumps with each jump going down every 3 minutes and 18 seconds. With this effort, Kevin raised awareness and over $78,000 for the fight against Parkinson’s Disease.
The third event was entitled, "The 300 Perfect Jumps for Parkinson Disease", and was slated to happen on Wednesday, June 13, 2012. However, the event was postponed due to Kevin's life changing injuries.
On March 10 Kevin Burkart was seriously injured in a snowmobile accident on the Canadian border in northern Minnesota. He broke numerous bones including 4 vertebrae and suffered serious nerve damage in his left arm. The injuries proved to be debilitating and have left Kevin without the usage of his left arm due to a brachial plexus spinal cord injury which severed several major nerve connections.
With surgery at the Mayo Clinic, and rigorous physical therapy, Kevin will regain limited elbow flexion in 2-3 years. Despite the loss, Kevin is determined to press on.
With some changes to his gear, Kevin is able to jump with just one arm. When the canopy opens he uses a simple carabiner to connect the steering toggles. And the two handle emergency procedure used to disconnect the main canopy and pull the reserve canopy in the event of a malfunction have been combined to a single handle.
Due to this less-than-perfect arrangement, the 300 Perfect Jumps has been rebranded as the "Imperfect Jumps for Parkinson Disease."
On June 19, 2013 Kevin Burkart completed 151 record-breaking 1 armed skydives in one day and raised over $120,000 to benefit Parkinson's Disease. It was a tremendous day for Parkinson's Disease and a great day for adaptive athletes everywhere.
Kevin's average turn time for each skydive was approximately 4 minutes. Jumping commenced at 5 AM and was completed around 9:45 PM. Kevin climbed to 2000 feet of altitude in 1 minute on a fast turbine aircraft. After exiting the aircraft at this low altitude it took him 2 minutes to return to earth and 1 minute to change his gear and get back on the plane. He used 6 identical skydiving rigs. He did two demonstration flag jumps with the national anthem playing. He visited the ambulance twice for IV fluids and anti-nausea medication. He pulled his right calf muscle at jump 98 but continued on limping to the plane there after.
Kevin is unique in that he is a one armed skydiver. After opening the canopy he utilizes a carabiner to connect the steering toggles so he can steer with one arm. If he pushes to the right the canopy goes left, if he pushes to the left the canopy goes right. For his quick turn fast skydives he adds a stirrup that drops down to his right foot that he uses to put the canopy in a spin to quickly return to earth.
There are only 2 active one arm skydivers in the world, the other being Tommy Fergerson. Kevin flew Tommy in from Pueblo Colorado so he could jump with him and have Tommy as a part of the event. Tommy was in charge of tracking the jump times the entire day.
Proceeds from the event are shared equally by the National Parkinson Foundation of Minnesota, providing care today for those living with the disease, and the National Parkinson Foundation that is trying to find a cure for tomorrow. We thank both of these organizations for their extraordinary support.
The event could not have been executed without the assistance of Skydive Twin Cities in Baldwin, Wisconsin. Special thanks go to their staff, pilots, and ground crew that kept Kevin safe and jumping every 4 minutes.
Please join Kevin Burkart for 300 Imperfect Jumps on Wednesday, June 15, 2016 as he attempts to complete a record number of one-armed skydives to benefit Parkinson's Disease research around the world.
This is the Imperfect Jumps for Parkinson's Disease!
June 16, 2010
Thanks again to all of the volunteers. Here’s a recap of the day:
The jumps went well.
We were held back on our start until 11am so we were behind all day. I was at 125 jumps around 10pm and told the group we’d stop at 150 which we did at 11:30pm after 20 jumps in the dark. It was the right decision. I couldn’t keep them until 2:30am or ask them to come back in the morning. The day was about PD, not skydiving, and we were successful on the PD front.
I can’t complain with 150, no shame in that.
I had a reserve ride on jump 26. I got sick on jump 43 and vomited all over myself in flight under canopy. The wrong diet and plane fumes contributed. I took a break at jump 50 and got IV fluids and meds for nausea from the ambulance crew and felt much better after just 30 minutes. Then went straight through to the end.
Could have been better, could have been worse. All in all a great accomplishment and I’m very fortunate to be surrounded by such caring people that made it happen.
And we accomplished our goals, $78,000 raised for PD and tremendous support by the media put awareness of the disease on the pages of many major news outlets. Here are some samples:
June 4, 2008
The day started at 5:45am with the minimum 2000 foot ceiling. We were on 5 minute turn pace for each jump right away, completing 22 jumps by about 8am when the weather got worse. We then intermittently picked up 10 more jumps by 2pm. At that point I knew if the weather didn’t clear soon we were 50/50 on reaching the goal.
The weather did turn. And I executed 68 jumps in a row, the 100th being at 8:30pm 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 1000th jump, a tradition in skydiving).
Weather makes skydivers do stupid things. And that happened to me. Our intermittent jumps during low ceiling periods caused me to make some bad decisions. I got away with it but it was lucky. Jumping from too low of an altitude with very little time for an out is a bad idea.
The media was very kind to us. We were the beneficiary of a slow news day, an exciting, visual event, and a good story. Here’s a partial list of news outlets that covered the 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 satellite hook-up – both on the ground and from the air (that was one brave cameraman)
Channel 4 TV onsite live interviews
KARE 11 on site live interviews
AM 1500 KSTP with Tom Mitschke – multiple interviews including date of event
Comcast national cable channel live TV – Big Idea, Small Town
Southwest Publications (multiple cover stories south metro Twin Cities)
Osakis Herald cover story
Octane Magazine from Entrepreneurs' Organization worldwide publication cover story and center spread
Numerous other publications and Internet outlets picked up the story.
Thanks to everyone who helped, our sponsors, and my dad, we achieved the objective in raising $48,000 and a lot of awareness for Parkinson’s Disease.