Gearing Up - June 2012
Within a few weeks, the results of the USPA Canopy Piloting National Championships held at Skydive the Farm in Rockmart, Georgia, will determine the members of the U.S. Canopy Piloting Team. Those eight CP competitors will join their counterparts from other skydiving disciplines to make up the 60-plus-member U.S. Team that will go to the 2012 Mondial (all events) World Championships in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, November 29 to December 9. While a huge honor for each competitor, each must still finance the majority of the trip’s $3,000 cost. “But what about the Team Trust Fund?” you say. Actually, this year it is making the largest disbursement in its history, paying the $1,000 entry fee for each competitor. Still, our U.S. Team deserves more support.
USPA formed the U.S. Parachute Team Trust Fund (USPTTF or just TTF) in 1986 as an endowment fund with a 501(c)(3) charitable status. With annual donations averaging $20,000 and recently under the skilled stewardship of USPA Treasurer Lee Schlichtemeier, the TTF has grown to more than $691,000 (as of the end of 2011). By law, the TTF is limited to disbursing no more than 10 percent of its value, resulting in modest grants to team members through the years. The TTF really should be thought of as a 401(k) retirement plan, receiving deposits and growing steadily in value until it can truly fulfill the future need.
Every U.S. Team is actually under the umbrella of the U.S. Parachute Team Inc. (USPT), also a 501(c)(3) charitable organization incorporated in 1976 to serve the interests of our athletes competing in amateur international competition. USPA chartered the USPT Inc. to accept gifts, money, etc., and to carry out “any and all” operations to further the interests of the U.S. Team. With the formation of the Team Trust Fund 10 years later, the USPT Inc. seems to have been marginalized. While individual U.S. Teams have always been encouraged to conduct their own fundraisers (with some being very successful and others not), the USPT Inc. itself stagnated, doing little to raise funds or even promote U.S. Teams.
Fortunately, that is now changing, as the current board of directors recognizes the capability of the USPT Inc. to do much more to promote, fund and solicit sponsorships for every U.S. Team. Several initiatives are underway, with the first being a campaign for friend, family and skydiver sponsorships. At suggested donations of $25, $50 and $100, every skydiver can be a sponsor of the U.S. Team and proudly display a U.S. Team patch saying so. Log on to usparachuteteam.org, and you’ll see a range of options: Donate to any discipline-specific team or equally to all teams. You can also donate to the USPT Inc. general fund to support other team-promotion efforts. And as always, you can donate to the Team Trust Fund, knowing your donation will continue to help that fund grow while it helps each and every U.S. Team beyond 2012. USPA has also provided quantities of sponsor patches to all team managers for their team members to distribute to donors, so if you know a team member, just ask. Either way, here is an opportunity for all of us to help our U.S. Team be the best that skydiving can offer. The U.S Team is counting on you!