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Skydiving club flying high after contest win

By Avery Connelly
On April 6, 2012

Freefall DePaul members will now be able to freefall a little easier. The skydiving group recently won a credit worth $2,500 from a Zipcar contest for college groups. They plan to use the money to help cover transportation costs to reach the skydiving site, which is over two hours away.

"I'm pretty sure stretch limos are not covered," said Cassie Snyder, a sophomore at DePaul and club secretary for Freefall DePaul.

"This will open up a lot of new freedom. Basically we can jump whenever we want," said Jordan Johnson, a sophomore and one of the officers for Freefall DePaul, whose job is to help promote the club through social media and networking. It was Johnson who entered the club in the Zipcar contest, but he credits club president Alex Thibodeau for asking him to do it.

Zipcar is a pay-as-you-go rental car service that held a contest for college students. People who entered were asked why their club needed transportation in addition to giving background information about the club.

"I figured it was random and I would never hear from them again," Johnson said. A month later, Zipcar called with the good news.

"I couldn't believe it," said Johnson. "We randomly won and didn't do anything."

"I was barely aware that we registered," Snyder said. "It was exciting."

The biggest challenge for the group hasn't been finding people who want to jump out of an airplane. Instead, it has been arranging transportation and paying for the transportation to get to Chicagoland Skydiving Center in Rochelle, Ill.

"This will open up the number of times we can jump and make it more accessible. We won't have to worry about transportation and the cost of transportation. Now we can pick up and go any weekend we want," said Alex Thibodeau.

Last fall the group did its first jump. Johnson and Thibodeau are still feeling the pain of the cost for the driver and bus the group chartered for the two-hour drive to Rochelle. The Zipcar credit allows the group to focus on the jump itself and not how they are going to get there.

"We just have to pay the jump fee, that's all we have to worry about now," Johnson said. Last fall, members chipped in $50 apiece to cover transportation costs for their first jump.

There is no cost to join Freefall DePaul. Members are responsible for paying the jump fee, and now, thanks to Zipcar, they don't have to worry about chipping in for transportation costs. According to Thibodeau, the jump fee is usually $200, but members pay $120 with the group and university discount.

Thibodeau originally planned for the group to do one jump during the fall, spring and summer quarters this year. Now with the Zipcar credit, he is hoping to schedule three to four jumps this quarter alone.

Snyder explained that this credit makes it possible to cover transportation costs every weekend in the spring quarter and even up until July if people are interested in going every weekend. She said the group plans to order a car based on the number of people who are going to jump.

Freefall DePaul is currently organizing members to become registered drivers through DePaul University. Participants will take a two-hour class and then they will be able to drive the Zipcars.

"It was a chance opportunity," Snyder said. "We are college kids - any coverage of cost helps us."

Freshman Alexis Keilly is looking forward to participating in the next jump. "I couldn't go on the last jump. I'm really young for my grade and I wasn't 18 yet, so I was not able to go," Keilly said.

Keilly turned 18 in November, and her enthusiasm is contagious. Asked what she is most excited for she quickly replied, "the adrenaline rush."

Even Keilly feels relieved about the Zipcar credit. "It just makes it a lot easier, and I can plan to go to multiple jumps because I won't have to pay a transportation fee," she said.

As for the next jump, Keilly is ready.

"I have always wanted to go, sign me up."

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