(Photo above of Ashley M. Aka The Skydive Chick)
“I don’t always sneeze with my eyes open, but when I do, it’s because I’m AWESOME!”
As some of you may already know, Ashley has been a contributor to Skydive Addiction for nearly 3 years… Almost as long as the site’s been around. She is also one of the two in charge of the Jump for Diabetes which happened at the beginning of July. Today, I got the chance to interview her about it.
Adam: So tell me how you started Jump for Diabetes?
Ashley: Jump for Diabetes started in 2009, it was sort of the brainchild of my partner Richard. He wanted to give back. The first event was held that August at Canton Air sports in Ohio. It was pretty successful, they raised about 2000$ and donated that to the American Diabetes Association.
Adam: By they, what do you mean? Who did the fundraising?
Ashley: Richard took care of it for the first year while I mostly helped spread the word at that point. The following three years were where I took over as the coordinator.
Adam: How did you come to be a part of this?
Ashley: Richard kind of wanted to hang it up after the first year; there were a lot of out of pocket expenses on his part and a lot of work. And I have a Marketing degree and said “Hey, let me give it a shot, don’t hang it up just yet” and I built on what he had already started.
Adam: By out of pocket expenses, what do you mean?
Ashley: He did all sorts of stuff, silent auctions and he made gift baskets for prizes and stuff, he bought tents and all sorts of things. I just sort of came in and streamlined the process a bit. I took away the silent auctions, streamlined the raffle process, basically, I used my event planning experience to help benefit the cause.
Adam: And how did that work out for the second year?
Ashley: Good! We managed to raise about 10 000$ to benefit Diabetes research. Of course, there was still more that could be improved and we continued to improve it every year. Moving it to Skydive Chicago was a key part of the improvement process.
Adam: How was Skydive Chicago an improvement?
Ashley: Well, Rook Nelson gave us the support we needed, he ensured we had everything that we needed to make the event a success, he helped us promote it, and really… The Community there, there was overwhelming support by the community at Skydive Chicago.
Adam: How did this year go?
Ashley: Well we still have money coming in, we’re over the 10 000$ mark right now, we had more pledge jumpers than ever. We had 14 from 10 different states! We had the biggest raffle we ever had with more than 17000$ in gear and discounts! We limited it to 300 tickets and we sold all of them. I’m really overwhelmed by the generosity of the community and the manufacturers. And I’m really glad to say that we are going out on a high note with the best year we’ve had yet.
Adam: What do you mean going out on a high note?
Ashley: After the final donations are made to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, Jump for Diabetes will be dissolved as a company. I’m so honored to have been able to work with both the Skydiving and Diabetes communities on this cause. I’ve met and worked with so many great people and I hope to continue to provide value within the community as I pursue other endeavors. I want skydivechick.com to have a purpose and I will be consulting on a case by case basis as others in the skydiving community want to embark on fundraising journeys themselves.
Adam: Wow! That’s a shock! Especially considering how well things were going!
Ashley: Yeah, it wasn’t an easy decision to make, but I believe that it’s the right decision and one that will allow me to continue to do good in the community.
Adam: Well I’m sure that you’ll continue to do good in whatever you decide to pursue, be it helping other people with their projects or simply in your day to day. You said you will be consulting, what do you mean by that?
Ashley: I will be taking the knowledge that I obtained through Jump for Diabetes and apply it to help others within the Skydiving community to start fundraisers of their own. No matter the cause.
Adam: Is this something you plan on doing right away?
Ashley: I think I’m going to take the rest of the season off and focus on my Freeflying skills. And at the beginning of next season, I will set up a spot on skydivechick.com where people who want to find out more about planning a fundraising event and want to get some consulting can contact me and let me know and we’ll get to working on it!
Adam: I look forward to seeing where this takes you! Thanks for taking the time to talk to me about all this. I’m sad to see that the Jump for Diabetes won’t happen again, it permitted you to help so many people, I hope that your new project will do the same.
Ashley: That makes two of us! Thanks, I appreciate you letting me tell my story!
Adam: Well, that’s what we do!