Jeremy Gaston/Herald-Chronicle
Jeremy Struemph, Lawrence, and Doug Watson, Lyndon, slide in after a tandem jump Thursday, Aug. 12, at Osage City airport. The jump marked Struemph’s 101st and final jump of the day, setting a new record and reaching a goal in raising funds for pancreatic cancer research and awareness.

Jeremy Gaston
| Editor

OSAGE CITY—In just over twelve hours, Skydive Kansas instructor Jeremy Struemph, Lawrence, nearly doubled the state record for skydives in one day, helping raise awareness and more than $3,300 for pancreatic cancer research on Aug. 12.

Struemph completed 101 jumps, almost doubling the record of 53 jumps he set June 14, 2007, while raising funds and awareness for domestic abuse. Last week he battled cancer, with nearly twice the success rate.

“The day went well,” said Struemph. “We started at 6:38 a.m., and we got done just a little bit after 7 p.m. We had beautiful weather, great winds and excellent support staff.”

The support staff is required for a 100-jump day, including a pilot, who traveled 40 vertical miles in the day; a dozen parachute packers; and friends, relatives and well-wishers who offered drinks, food and other support.

As they approached the final jump, the volunteers who had donated an entire day of packing, in addition to the use of their chutes, were invited to drop their names into a hat to join Struemph and SkyDive Kansas owner Jen Sharp on the final jump. Bill Hubbard, Topeka, and Merrill Smith, Ottawa, were drawn.

Smith immediately gave up his spot to Doug Watson, Lyndon, who had lost his brother to pancreatic cancer last year. Watson had jumped just once before.

“I told him he had to go,” Smith said, citing Watson’s brother as the reason for giving up the jump. “I figured it would be more fitting.”

With just one jump on record, according the Skydive Kansas rules, Watson would have to jump tandem, rigged to a more experienced jumper. For Struemph’s final jump, he would be sharing a chute with Watson. The two also shared the experience of losing a relative to pancreatic cancer.

“That’s what my mom died of, November 10, 2000,” Struemph said. “I though it was very cool to be able to share that with him.”

Watson was among the first and quickest to volunteer after Struemph introduced the idea of the fundraising jump.

“I said I’m on for helping with whatever I can,” Watson said. “It was pretty awesome to get to fly with him on that last jump.”

After a day of six-minute turn-arounds and quick jumps at 2,100 feet, Stuemph, Watson, Sharp and Hubbard climbed to 10,000 feet for the final jump of the day.

“I was really impressed he did a tandem for his final jump,” said Sharp. “It’s a lot more intense taking on the responsibility of another person.”

All four jumpers glided down safely, ending a day of 101 jumps for the cause.

“We chose pancreatic cancer for this event,” Struemph said. “There’s roughly 40,000 people diagnosed with pancreatic cancer every year, and within five years of being diagnosed, 36,000 of them will pass. It’s a vicious disease, and the survivability rate is very low.”

Struemph wore Cancer 101 T-shirts on each of his jumps, changing out shirts as he swapped chutes after each landing. The shirts were each sold for donations, with several still remaining.

“We still have about 30 shirts to go, and some interest there,” Sharp said on Monday. “They can call, come by or go to the web site. They’re available for donation on the site.”

The event site, www.cancer101.us, offers the remaining 27 shirts for sale at a suggested price of $101, or any amount between $5 and for $250.
Sharp was happy with the success of the day between the benefit and jumps themselves. Struemph completed his record-breaking day with just one cutaway, earning a pro-rating along the way for accuracy in landing.

“It was so smooth,” Sharp said. “We really appreciate the support.”
Sharp also appreciated the well-wishers, supporters and watchers who stopped by throughout the day.

“We always love for people to stop by,” she said. “Even if we’re not having an event, spectators are always welcome.”