What’s so BIG about Big Jump?

A Look into the Impact Big Jump 2019 has on ESP’s Grand Slam Summer

What is Big Jump?

Big Jump is one of ESP’s Big 3! ESP’s Big 3 refers to the three times each year that ESP invites the community to engage with our mission and help the individuals of ESP thrive.

Big Jump, however, might be considered the most extreme of the Big 3. Big Jump is held at Skydive Monroe and includes a festival for anyone to come out, watch our skydiving superheroes jump out of a plane and help raise money for campers to be able to participate in ESP’s summer programs. This year, Big Jump helped raise money for ESP’s 2019 Grand Slam Summer!

Big Jump is not your typical Saturday. Sure, there are different activities and foods, but what other day are people jumping out of planes for eight hours because they believe in a mission so deeply? From 10 am to 6 pm, jumpers are periodically falling from the sky-celebrating their hard work fundraising so people in any financial situation have the chance to become ESPers

The 2019 Skydiving Superheroes

Skydiving superheroes are ESP participants, staff, board members and community partners who stepped up to the plate to dive for dollars and help fundraise. A grand slam is impossible without runners on base. These superheroes put in the preparation in the months leading up to Big Jump to be ESP’s fundraising All-Stars.

One of our skydiving superheroes for the past two years was Alaisha Wellons. Alaisha is a former AmeriCorp team member and currently serves on ESP 360 and summer staff. Alaisha is now in graduate school at The University of Georgia furthering her education in social work. She explains her motivation for jumping saying, “I decided to jump because I wanted to help make it possible for more people with disabilities to attend ESP summer camp. I loved going to camp as a kid, and I want to help kids of all abilities experience the fun summer camp!”

Each jumper is supported by a crowd of ESP participants with signs and high fives waiting to give a big hip hip hooray to all skydiving superheros. Alaisha highlights this aspect of the event explaining, “Being a jumper is awesome because everyone is excited to see you jump and cheering you on. As soon as I got back to the ground there was a crowd of ESP participants cheering for me and giving me high fives and hugs.”

This year at Big Jump, we had 60 jumpers total. Our jumpers really worked to creatively fundraise for our mission in their own way. Cheeky Peach founder, Katie Jacobs created a proceed day where 10% of profits were donated to her big jump for ESP! She also had a whole Instagram story highlight on the Cheeky Peach Instagram dedicated to Big Jump, her fundraising progress and how much she believes in this mission. Katie’s creativity paid off since she was on of our top three fundraisers for Big Jump 2019.

We also have jumpers that overcame deep fears. One example would be Oconee State Bank assistant VP of culture, Josh Collins. Josh explains his story on his blog post, Courage through the Free Fall: “I told him that I would have to face my fears because supporting ESP is worth a little bit of personal discomfort. Owner of Pure Balance Pilates Studio, Ali, learned her courage from ESPers and was empowered to face her fear: “But more than being courageous in the biggest moments, this experience and my time with the athletes at ESP have taught me that true courage is not always the climactic jump from a plane, but being fully yourself and showing up daily, even when it’s physically trying.”

The Community

The best part about events in the Big 3 is the interaction between ESP and the community. Big Jump allows families of campers, local supporters, volunteers and anyone else interested in ESP to engage with our mission of creating opportunities for people with disabilities and their families to engage, connect and thrive.

One of the largest aspects of this event is the festival held that welcomes the community to interact with one another as well as the ESP family. This year, the festival included an archery station, a Kona Ice truck, cornhole, bouncy houses, a Home Depot building station and even an appearance by Hairy Dawg!

Bulldog Kia really showed their community support for ESP through being the Big Jump 2019 corporate sponsor. Bulldog Kia also donated portions of their sales to ESP throughout the entire month of April on top of their thrive level partnership with ESP. Not only did Bulldog Kia come out to Monroe for the event, but the marketing manager, Anastasia Roberts, brought out her two sons and engaged with our event and mission throughout the day.

Big Jump 2019 was also planned through a community committee including Kathy Taylor, Suzanne Dooley, Cathy Kesterson and Annie Curry. These women are all mothers of ESP summer campers who know the importance of community support when planning ESP summer.

The Numbers

Big Jump is a fundraiser at its core. So the million dollar question is how did it go? Big Jump raised over $140,000 through the support of our incredible jumpers, corporate partners, and each of the festival-goers who supported us on the ground. There were 60 skydivers who raised a combined $95,000!!

Our number one fundraiser was Bo Rutledge! Bo is the Dean of the University of Georgia Law School. He fundraised over $15,000 and then soared through the skies of Monroe all for our ESP participants. Bo alone helped 18 kids be able to attend summer camp this year!!

You can see the impact of Big Jump during Friend Fridays of our Grand Slam Summer. Every Friday of Day Camp, you are invited to enjoy a cup of Java Joy coffee, sing a camp song, and leave having started your morning right!! Click here to learn more about Friend Fridays this summer, and how you can get a taste of the ESP camp magic.

Abigail Rowland
About The Author

Abigail Rowland

Abigail Rowland is a fourth year Public Relations student at the University of Georgia.

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