Posted by Mark Weber

Kevin Burkart: Taking Charity to New Heights

Guest speaker Kevin Burkart on Oct. 29 shared his story of taking charitable fundraising to new heights by setting records for consecutive skydives on behalf of Parkinson’s Disease research.
The Prior Lake resident related that his father was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 1999 and they immediately became involved in what is now called the Parkinson’s Foundation. The nonprofit was accustomed to raising research money through run/walk events and golf tourneys until Kevin parlayed his competitive skydiving experience into a unique way to raise more dollars.
He organized “The 100 Perfect Jumps for Parkinson’s Disease” in June 2008, reaching his goal of completing 100 skydives in a day and raising $48,000 in the process. The next year he shot for 200 skydives in a day, reached 150 while reducing his per-skydive time to around three minutes, and raised $78,000. He aimed for 300 skydives in 2012 and raised $95,000 for Parkinson’s research.
But he was in a crippling snowmobile accident not long after that, and traveled down a long road filled with pain and surgeries. His left arm is largely unusable, but he’s not only found a way to skydive with one arm – yes, raising even more money for Parkinson’s – but discovered the means to SCUBA dive, water ski, compete in triathlons, and more.
Kevin urges his audiences to “escape the logic of fear” and challenge one’s self whenever possible. “A passive life will never be a meaningful life,” he advises.


  • Don’t forget the Veteran’s Day luncheon from 11:15 a.m. to 1:15 p.m. Monday, Nov. 11, at the Edina Country Club.
  • Tim Murphy, with help from Roger Jorgensen, will present important information about the impact of the Rotary International Foundation at our Nov. 12 meeting.
  • About 10 tickets remain for the Nov. 14 outing to see “Guys & Doll” at EPHS, where exchange student Clementine will be performing. The outing includes dinner beforehand at Tavern 4 & 5. Contact Jane McGinty or Holly Link.
  • Watch your e-mails for multiple opportunities to connect with Jennifer Jones, a Rotary International trustee who will be visiting this area Nov. 20 and 21.
  • Please keep member Bruce Hutchins in your thoughts and prayers. Bruce’s wife, Terry, is battling cancer.

New Member Inductions

The club inducted three new members: Jeff Jiang, Blake Cadwallader, and Lori Thrune. Mark Weber was Jeff’s sponsor; Jane McGinty sponsored Blake and Lori, who are married and have been involved in the Rotary Youth Exchange program. Jeff is a board member for the Eden Prairie Community Foundation and one of the founders of the Eden Prairie Chinese Association. Welcome! 

Happy Fines

We’re happy and we’ll happily pay to share our stories. Carol Bomben is happy about the one-year anniversary of Onward Eden Prairie, a nonprofit organization that provides stable housing to young adults and one that received a lot of Rotary help, including board representation. PG Narayanan is happy about the Eden Prairie Community Foundation’s involvement in OEP’s start, and also about a grant to Cornerstone that provided improvements to its shelter for women and families. Bill Yeager is not so happy to defer on his Meals on Wheels schedule and asked for a substitute. Jacob Stonesifer is happy to announce that his job planning a Scouting fundraiser breakfast just got easier by landing speakers Joan Gabel (U of M president) and Joe Schmidt (KSTP sports reporter). Our interns are asking for job-shadow opportunities, especially in the STEM career field (watch your e-mail for more information).