In this day and age where news and social media is often filled with negative things, a breath of fresh air is always welcome. Skydiving is considered by many to be an extreme sport, but as one particular event showed, it can be used both for fun and for a special cause.
On May 13, the Extra Special People (ESP) of Watkinsville, GA (east of Atlanta) are putting on a skydiving fundraiser at Skydive Monroe. Known as The Big Jump, it is an annual event with this particular one being the sixth ever. The goal is to provide scholarships for children with developmental disabilities so that they can attend the ESP summer camp, which is organization’s flagship program.
The Big Jump’s fundraising goal was $50,000 dollars, and as of a week before the event, close to 90 percent was already collected. Each jumper needed to raise $600, but many go over this minimum limit. Those who raised a minimum of $1,000 were automatically included in the High Fliers Club and given due recognition, while the top fundraiser will receive the Matthew Dooley Award.
What is the Big Jump?
The Big Jump is held for one whole day, with the first jump commencing at 10 am and concluding at 6 pm. Skydiving is the main attraction, but it is a festive event that also includes live music, plane rides, pony rides, and more. Since its inception, ESP participants, staff (including board members), and community associates have jumped in order to raise funds for this noble cause. Jumpers typically skydive in tandem with a licensed instructor.
What is the ESP Summer Camp?
The Summer Camp is ESP’s most popular program. It runs for a total of 8 weeks during the summer months with around 250 participants expected each year. The camp has counselors that give the needed support and attention to the participants. Sports, talent shows, overnight camping, art, and social development are just some of the things that happen during a summer camp. ESP offers scholarships for those in financial need and uses events such as the Big Jump in order to extend these scholarships to more campers.
Who are the Extra Special People?
ESP is an organization founded in 1986 by a woman named Martha Wyllie, who had a passion for teenagers and young children with disabilities. They serve those with Cerebral Palsy, Autism, Down Syndrome, Asperger’s, Angelman Syndrome, and much more. In addition, they also serve the families of the individuals affected. A total of 21 campers attended the first ever ESP summer camp. In 2006, Laura Whitaker was appointed Executive Director and has expanded ESP’s programs in addition to the summer camp – including the annual Big Jump.
How Can You Help?
Aside from participating in upcoming Big Jump events, you can help out ESP in a number of ways. One of these is to volunteer for ESP, whether it is for the summer camp or their other occasional events. You can also directly invest in the organization. Whether corporate or individual, ESP welcomes any financial help from the community.