Taking a SWAN dive

By Miriam King, Bradford Times

Seven SWANS – members of  Successful Women Always Networking – were joined by supporter Ray Walker on August 20, for a SWAN Dive at Skydive Toronto.

It was a fundraiser for the BWG Community Initiatives, an organization that operates community gardens and the Bradford Community Meal,  a free weekly hot meal open to anyone who is alone, lonely, or on a fixed income.  It was to be an “extreme” fundraiser – one that challenged the women to step outside of their comfort zone,  and raise at least $500 each for the charity of choice.

The SWAN Dive was the brainchild of SWAN president Amber Smith, who is no stranger to sky-diving. Her enthusiasm  persuaded members Colleen Lindberg, Maggie Cohen, Jaclyn DeMelo, Dr. LeeAnn Ng, Jessica Crossan and Jackie Kozak to take the plunge.

As for Walker, when he learned the date of the Dive, he immediately signed up: newly divorced, August 20 would have been his 7th wedding anniversary. What better way to sever the ties than to jump from a plane? He also raised $720 for the charity.

Skydiving was on the “bucket list” of most of the women - but not all. Jackie Kozak, of Scaraoke Entertainment, decided to jump against her own better judgement, and her fear of heights.

Before suiting up, Kozak traded  quips with her mom, Susan Johnston.

“It's amazing the heights they'll go to, to raise money,” said Johnston.

“She (Susan) has done a lot of charity work, but her feet are on the ground,” replied  Kozak.

The SWAN group, making tandem dives with qualified skydivers,  gave the experience rave reviews.

“It was amazing!” said Lindberg. “It was great!”
“Just as exciting as the first time,” said Smith.
“Unbelievable,” said Walker.
All said they'd jump again – except for Kozak. Not only was her jump delayed, “we started spinning. I was freaking out,” she said. A videographer had been  hired to film her first skydive. “I think I just swore all the way down,” Kozak said. Would she do it again? “No.”

The event raised at least $3,500 for the BWG Community Initiatives, with donations still coming in. For more information, see SWANBradford on