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Freedom Freefall offers veterans free tandem skydives

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Freedom Freefall offers veterans free tandem skydives

May 14, 2024 7:44 AM CDT

By: Lisa M. Hale

PULASKI, WI – (WISS and WGBW) – This is the 10th year of the annual Freedom Freefall event that allows military veterans an opportunity to skydive for free. 

The theory behind the Freedom Freefall is that the adrenaline from the military lifestyle is often missed. The Freedom Freefall is a way to revisit that rush says Andy Van Handel, a skydiving instructor who has been a part of the Freedom Freefall from the beginning. 

“It’s so rewarding seeing the transformation from before they jump, to when they land,” said VanHandel. “Incredible!”

HOOAH WI has held the Freedom Freefall since 2015. This year’s events will be in Madison with the Seven Hills Skydivers on July 13, 2024. Another Freedom Freefall will be held in Pulaski with the Skydive Freefall Adventure on July 20th.

VanHandel says skydiving allows these veterans to see the beauty the world still offers them. The program also shows veterans that they have support and community. It changes lives.

“I know that this skydive has changed some of the veterans’ lives,” said VanHandel. “Hearing stories a couple of years later of a veteran we took. Before we jumped he was like ‘Whatever.’ But then he couldn’t stop smiling. Six hours later, he’s like, ‘I can’t stop smiling, Andy.’ Then I find out a couple years later that he was headed down that dark path.”

VanHandel says this year’s goal is to take 20 veterans up to skydive at each location for a total of 40 veterans served. Each veteran will get a tandem skydive and a video of their jump to keep and show off to friends. VanHandel says some of the spots in Pulaski are being reserved for Gold Star Mothers.

To make the event even more special, Van Handel says that July 13th is also World Skydiving Day. 

“The cool thing about this–And this was complete coincidence ‘cause we had our date planned. Now all the veterans that jump on July 13th are going to be part of a world record now!” said VanHandel.

To apply or nominate a veteran to be part of the event visit the webpage here: Freedom Freefall Application. The application window closes on May 15th, 2024. The skydivers and veterans will be completed by June 1st. 

People who would like to donate to the Freedom Freefall or any of the other programs sponsored by HOOAH WI can do so at https://hooahwi.org/donate/.


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