PRIOR LAKE, Minn. (WCCO) — If you’re like most people, the thought of going skydiving – just once – scares you half to death.
So what kind of man wants to attempt a world record of 300 skydives in 24 hours?
That’d be Kevin Burkart.
“It’s funny,” said the 45 year old from Prior Lake, “We get the question a lot about, ‘Are you an adrenaline seeker?’ And I think if you asked most skydivers out here, ‘Are you an adrenaline seeker?’ we would probably smirk. Because after you’ve had – you know, I’m thousands of skydives into this sport, and I would say after the first 50 or so, you don’t have that adrenaline rush anymore. And it’s much like teeing up a golf ball.”
That’s right. He just compared skydiving to the leisurely relaxation activity of golfing.
You slice a tee shot though, the worst that could happen is losing a ball.
“Well, so that’s a bit of a misnomer. Modern day skydiving is extremely safe,” Burkart said. “Statistically speaking, your car ride out to the drop zone is much more dangerous than the skydive that you would do out here.”
My wife could have heard him say all of that, and she’d still say, “You’re not going.”
“Yeah, I get that, that’s OK,” Burkart said. “I’d still like to take you though. David McCoy, you should go for a skydive!”
Burkart will make his record attempt at the airport in Baldwin, Wisconsin – a half hour east of St. Paul – starting at 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday and finishing by 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday. It’s free and open to the public to watch, all day Wednesday.
“Every three minutes, you’re gonna see a knucklehead like me fall out of an airplane,” Burkart said. “And I’m gonna land right in front of you 25 feet away.”
That’s right: Every three to four minutes. That’s the pace he needs to keep to pull off 300 jumps in 24 hours.
“I only go to 2,000 feet of altitude. That’s very low. That’s the minimum hard deck for doing a skydive,” Burkart said. “And I use a very fast turbine aircraft. And it gets me to altitude in 45 seconds. I’m able to fall out and back down to earth in about a minute and a half. I change out my gear and I’m back in the airplane.”
He’ll have a team of parachute packers reloading him on the ground, and a pair of pilots taking shifts.
“I have the easy part,” Burkart said. “I just fall out of the airplane all day long.”
There is a hard part though. Burkart only has the use of one arm, after a snowmobile accident four years ago.
“It resulted in a spinal cord injury,” Burkart said. “And I’m permanently paralyzed in my left arm.”
As you might imagine, skydiving one handed is significantly harder.
What motivates a man with one arm to attempt 300 skydives in one day?
His father. Burkart’s dad, Gary, has Parkinson’s Disease.
“Living with Parkinson’s is a lot harder than doing a one-armed skydive,” Burkart said.
And this is Burkart’s way of raising money and awareness to fight it.
“My thought is to really stand out you’ve got to try something unique and different,” he said. “The skydiving is a gimmick. It’s about Parkinson’s.”
I was totally going to jump too. But my wife wouldn’t let me. A likely story, right? Does he see right through that explanation?
“I don’t blame anyone for not wanting to jump out of an airplane,” he said with a smile.
But it’s a good thing Burkart does want to. His jumps this week will raise more than $100,000.
“In our community in Minnesota, when you go out and ask for help, people open their wallets,” he said. “And they’re very generous. And I’m fortunate to be surrounded by a lot of very generous people that respond to that call for help.”
Insert your own joke here about a man falling from the sky out of an airplane, calling for help.
For more information about attending Kevin’s event on Wednesday, or to support his cause, click here.