Partially Paralyzed Man Completes 101 Skydive Jumps in a Single Day for Parkinson’s Research


Kevin Burkart was attempting to do 300 skydives in one day in 2012 when a snowmobile accident in northern Minnesota paralyzed his left arm.

“It was devastating, but I pushed forward,” Burkart, 44, tells PEOPLE. “I wasn’t going to let that slow me down.”

The professional competition and tandem skydiving instructor (who has been jumping since 2002) wasn’t just doing it for the thrill. In 1999, his father, Gary, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. Burkart has since made it his mission to help find a cure.

“It’s the second most common neurodegenerative disease,” he says. “But it doesn’t make any noise.”

Burkart, who cares for his father who is now in the late stages of Parkinson’s, says it’s painful to see someone you love go from being healthy to using a cane and then a walker.

“The people who have it are normally older. They’re humble and just going quietly into the night,” he says. “It’s amazing how quickly you go from being a baby and being taken care of to then taking care of your parents.”

Between three skydiving events in 2008, 2010 and 2012, Burkart raised $250,000 for research into the disease.

Then, on June 15, despite high winds gusting up to 29 mph, he completed 101 jumps in just 24 hours in Baldwin, Wisconsin.

Throughout the day, 400 people came to watch him at Skydive Twin Cities. There were also food trucks, information booths, speakers, yoga and massages available to everyone who came to the big event.

Partially Paralyzed Man Completes 101 Skydive Jumps in a Single Day for Parkinson's Research| Medical Conditions, Real People Stories

“It was a really special day,” says Burkart who recently got married. “I almost broke my ankle a couple times and it beat the heck out of me, but it felt so good doing this and knowing I was raising money for this disease. It might be too late for my father, but it might help others.”

Skydivers in that particular area typically jump at 13,000 feet, but Burkart was jumping from a height of 2,000 feet due to the amount of jumps he attempted.

Although he came short of his goal to complete 300 skydives that day, Burkart, who raised $128,000 at the event for the National Parkinson’s Foundation, says he still feels like he accomplished a great deal.

“This is just the beginning,” he says. “We have a lot more fighting to do.”


Student creates glove that reduces Parkinson’s tremors by 80%

Student creates glove that reduces Parkinson’s tremors by 80%

By Carolina


A medical student has created a glove that helps patients with Parkinson’s disease maintain the firmness of their hands!

The device, called GyroGlove attempts to control the tremors which is a common symptom of the disease using gyroscopes – mechanisms not too dissimilar to those used to maintain the stability of satellites in space.

Faii Ong, the brain behind this glove is a student at the prestigious Imperial College London. After preparing several design projects, the student and some of his peers sought funding for a startup. Together with other colleagues from Imperial College, they managed to raise the funds needed to build the first  prototype.


Gyros [in this example] are small metal discs put into rotation to maintain position through the physical principle of conservation of angular momentum. A rotating object [disc] tend to remain rotating around the same axis and react to forces trying to displace it.


Faii Ong during a presentation on GyroGlove / Image Source: Twitter

The idea of using this type of mechanism came to Faii Ong after exhaustive testing of other methods – such as using rubber bands, springs, magnets and other components to control the tremors.

Reduced tremors

According to GyroGear, a startup created to develop the product, bench tests show that the special glove, called GyroGlove, was able to reduce the amplitude of tremors by 80%. This degree of efficiency would allow victims of severe cases of the disease write, use cutlery and drink coffee using the invention.

Faii Ong already won three startups contests, helped by the GyroGear. However, the company has no official date to launch its first product to market.


The Lesson You’ve Taught Me, Daddy, as You Fight Parkinson’s Disease and Dementia

maddie petersil and her dad on a couch

Dear Dad,

I’m writing you this letter to tell you what I’ve learned — what you’ve taught me. The powerful stuff, the stuff that resonates deeply and entirely. Some of it I know was intentional, while another aspect of it I know wasn’t. You didn’t ask to get sick or to be on hospice at 53 years young. Parkinson’s disease and Lewy body dementia began taking your life away from you nine years ago. Yet, you’re still hanging on. Your body has deteriorated to practically just skin and bones, you’ve lost all control of that body and the ability to function as any seemingly healthy individual should. I’m not sure if you know who I am, but I do know that you sometimes burst into the biggest grin when you hear my obnoxious, cackling laugh (I’m talking shaking the windows, shaking the doors, get-everyone-ear-plugs-stat laugh… you know the one) — and that is everything to me. Maybe that’s why you’re holding on, because you know we’re still here… I don’t know…

What I do know, however, is that I think about you every day, and while, yes, many of those moments fill me with sadness and longing, I’ve been teaching myself to reflect peacefully, happily and contently. Don’t get me wrong — even in those sad moments, love never ceases, but I have found there is a difference — a difference, at least, in my personal perception of how that love feels.

As I’ve been on a journey the last several weeks to find inner peace with myself, work with my own chronic illness and all that comes with it, learn to cope better with stress, honor and trust myself and my intentions, and to find happiness with where I am presently, I’ve gained some perspective. Love shadowed with sadness presents itself negatively — like love shadowed with anger, regret, heartbreak… you name it. There’s always some kind of negative connotation associated with that love. And I’ve realized, Daddy, that I don’t want there to be any kind of negative energy surrounding my memory of you. You bring warmth to my heart and a feeling of calmness to my mind and soul. It’s those feelings, all that good love, that I want to hold onto forever.

Sure, I may be crying as I write this… because it’s powerful. This insane path you, Mom, Lauren and I found ourselves on in 2007 is just that… insane. It has been the farthest thing from fair, just, or any rational or “normal” existence we hoped to live. But with that, your love has kept me afloat. And Dad, that is the most potent, influential, palpable, touching, beautiful, flawlessly incredible lesson you taught me. And it sounds so simple and obvious — love.

It’s something I’d forgotten, grieving you for all those years, watching you deteriorate in front of my eyes. It’s often easy to forget the good stuff. Over the past several years, I feel as if I’ve spent more time reflecting on the bad stuff, the icky times, the awful times (I wonder why that is?). But today, Daddy, I choose love over everything. I choose to remember that dorky ear-to-ear grin that crinkled your eyes, your tender, warm bear hugs, the silent yet wonderfully expressive look of adoration, support and pride on your face when I’d walk out at the end of a performance. Love, Dad, has been the greatest gift you’ve given me, and the greatest lesson you’ve taught me; really, the greatest gift and lesson we can all give to each other. Because with love should come respect, support, trust, encouragement, compassion and adventure (and boy, did we have our fill of that! River rafting, camping, traveling…) — things we all need to get through the day.

Positivity, too, follows love. The good stuff. And though it can be very difficult at times (challenging, in fact, to the nth degree), I’ve made a promise to myself, and now to you in this letter, to continue growing in this positive light and to spread the love you’ve given so very much of — the love I have been blessed to receive. The gratitude I have for you, Dad, is unending. Pure, wholesome gratitude.

Your love literally created my being and shaped me into the woman I am today. I feel strong because of you, I feel empowered because I have your love coursing through my body and soul. I will continue to smile for you, I will continue to laugh for you, I will continue to love with you in mind.

You are an exemplary man and a gift. And I’m honored to be your daughter.

I love you the most,

Your Maddie Claire Boo-Boo Bear