Kevin Burkart has one working arm fewer and 150 more sky-dives slated for his final aerial fundraiser.
The Prior Lake man started his grand gesture for Parkinson’s disease in 2008 and has since doubled his goal for the number of jumps in 24 hours. Burkart’s final series at Skydive Twin Cities in Baldwin, Wis., starts on Wednesday — weather permitting, around 4 a.m. — and runs through Thursday. The free event is open to anyone interested in donating, observing Burkart’s stunts and listening to speakers.
Burkart, 45, started sky diving in 2000 — one year after his father, Gary, received his Parkinson’s diagnosis — but a snowmobiling accident in 2010 paralyzed his left arm. He has since adapted to his body and the sport.
“If someone would have said, ‘Well, go do a one-arm sky-dive,’ ” Burkart said, “people would say, ‘That’s crazy, don’t do that.’ ”
Despite the skeptics, Burkart is doing it.
“He has oftentimes told me what a cruel disease [Parkinson’s] is,” said his friend Paul Ryan, who helped organize “300 Imperfect Jumps.” “His father is deteriorating, and that’s why he keeps going back and doing it.”
The other options for fundraisers — golf tournaments, races, most-worms-eaten-in-a-day — don’t appeal to Burkart.
His family, he added, would prefer a safer option. “It’s what I can do to make a difference,” he said.
Parent-and-child caretaking roles reversed more quickly than Burkart expected. His father, now 75, lives about two hours away, and they’ll occasionally bike together; his father uses recumbent wheels.
His father’s Parkinson’s and his own accident have shaped Burkart’s perspective.
“Perhaps to my detriment, I let some of the small stuff go,” Burkart said. “I think the same is true of my approach with my father. I’m not in a hurry, and I don’t think he is either.”