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Skydiving teddy bears provide courage for sick children

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By Meaghan Downs

Nothing’s braver than a teddy bear.
A teddy bear that jumped from an airplane at about 9,500 feet, that is.
Lawrenceburg resident Troy Woods, a statewide record-holding skydiver and jumping instructor at the Jumping for Fun Parachute Center, has jumped from planes for charity before.
Last year Woods broke the state record (80 jumps in one day) while he raised funds for a boy battling leukemia.
On June 1 he will strap stuffed teddy bears to his chest as a fundraiser for Kentucky Children’s Hospital with the help of his daughter, Christina.
Each bear will be a symbol of courage for a sick child, Woods, who has completed more than 600 skydives, said.
“Anybody can donate $20, anybody can donate a bear, but to take a bear and make it a symbol of courage and bravery, I think that’ll mean more to a children going through tough times in a hospital than a normal bear or money,” Woods said.
Woods learned about “Canopies for Kids,” a Chicago non-profit that provides stuffed teddy bears for skydivers to take along on jumps, about a month ago through a friend.
And his daughter, he said, wanted to be a big part of it.
Christina, an 11-year-old sixth grader at Anderson County Middle School, is too young to skydive with her father.
But she’ll be on the ground at Arnold’s Airport in Lebanon, organizing the June 1 event, which will feature food for purchase, entertainment and special jumps involving a 500 square foot American flag and ankle-strapped smoke grenades.
She’s most looking forward to giving the bears to patients, “’cause it would make the children feel a lot better about surgery.”
The bears, provided by the “Canopies for Kids” organization, come dressed in a “Canopies for Kids” T-shirt and are packaged in a plastic bag for those children who may have compromised immune systems.
Woods’ goal is to skydive with 50 teddy bears from Friday to Sunday next weekend.
“I would like to see people who wouldn’t normally do this to come out,” Troy said.
Those who purchase a $20 bear can also choose to skydive with their stuffed animal for an extra jump fee; Woods said about 24 people have already signed up to do so.
But everyone who wants to help with “Canopies for Kids” doesn’t have to skydive, he said.
Those interested can “sponsor” a bear, the stuffed animal will ascend into the sky with another skydiver.
The cost of the bear includes the stuffed animal, a card to personalize and $5 to be given to Kentucky Children’s Hospital.
Woods said he hopes the staff at the parachute center will also be able to take photos of the bears exiting the plane for the kids and to give photos along with the bears.
“The goal is, we hope this works out, we want a picture of every bear in free fall,” he said.  
Woods also said he’s looking into making the “Canopies for Kids” fundraiser a more permanent add-on option for interested skydivers to add to their overall jump price.
Those bears may be given to children going through chemotherapy treatment or celebrating birthdays in the hospital, he said.

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Want to help?
A Canopies for Kids event, hosted by Jumping for Fun Parachute Center, will be held June 1 at noon until dark at Arnold’s Airport, located at 858 Simstown Road in Lebanon.
Rain date for the event will be the following Saturday, June 8.
Troy Woods, a record-holding skydiver and skydiving instructor, said he hopes to jump with at least 50 teddy bears to give to children staying Kentucky Children’s Hospital in Lexington.
In order to schedule enough jumps for all the bears, Woods said, participants will be skydiving starting Friday, May 31 through Sunday, June 2, starting at daybreak both days.
The community is invited watch Saturday, and there will be food available for purchase and activities for those not skydiving, he said.
Each Canopies for Kids bear costs $20, which includes a personalized card and a $5 donation to be given to Kentucky Children’s Hospital.
Jump prices are not included.
For more information about the charity event and jump prices, visit www.jumpingforfunskydiving.com or contact Woods at troywoods@wildblue.net or call 502-386-7484.
To order bears, go to www.jumpingforfunskydiving.com, click on the “calendar” tab and then click on the icon for Canopies for Kids. The website should direct you to a page specifically for Woods’ June 1 event.
For more on Canopies for Kids, visit canopiesforkids.com.
The deadline for ordering a bear for the June 1 event is May 25.