01/07/07 — Hulse completes skydive for United Way

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Hulse completes skydive for United Way

By Andrew Bell
Published in News on January 7, 2007 2:06 AM

Geoff Hulse didn't want to dwell on what he was about to do as he looked down upon the Earth from 14,000 feet. But before he could think twice, the 2006 United Way campaign chairman exited the door and began his skydiving adventure over Franklin County.

"That was pretty powerful," Hulse said shortly after his descent. "That was one pretty freaking big jump for Geoff Hulse and one giant leap for the United Way."

The plunge was the last community reward for the United Way's Bring It On campaign, which worked toward raising $1.44 million for community programs and organizations.

When Hulse and campaign volunteers realized they might not reach their goal, Hulse said he suggested he skydive as a reward for raising the money.

Many others joined in the effort. State Rep. Louis Pate packed pickles at Mt. Olive Pickle Co. when the campaign reached 60 percent. At 70 percent, Goldsboro Mayor Al King served coffee at Starbuck's. Then, at 80 percent, Wayne County Sheriff Carey Winders served doughnuts at Krispy Kreme -- raising eyebrows, and more than $500 in tips. Last week after the campaign reached 90 percent, Cincinnati Reds manager and Wayne County resident Jerry Narron read to two sessions of children at Wayne County Public Library's Goldsboro branch.

And along the way, smaller groups got into the action, with multiple challenges in Mount Olive and the "arrest" of AAR Corp. general manager Gregg Miner, who was later bailed out by his staff and a $5,000 donation made to add to the local effort by the company's corporate office.

And although the campaign is still about 2 percent away from its goal, Hulse said he hopes Saturday's jump will get a few more Wayne County residents interested in donating.

"I certainly hope the excitement we generate can get that last 2 percent or any more," Hulse said.

He said he experienced his fair share of excitement on Saturday. Leading up to his jump, Hulse said he was looking forward to the adrenaline rush of skydiving, but he said he soon changed his tune after the freefall.

"I don't think I need anymore adrenaline rushes for the next 12 hours or so," Hulse said.

After he exited the door of the airplane with tandem partner Nick Zelinski in tow, Hulse said the two were on a one-minute freefall. After a few mid-air rolls and flips, the once-worried campaign chairman said he felt his adventure ended prematurely.

"A one-minute freefall feels like 10 or 15 seconds," he said. "I guess time flies when you're having fun."

Once the parachute's rip cord was pulled, Hulse said it was a very peaceful feeling looking at the state from thousands of feet up.

"I was really looking forward to it, but it surpassed any feelings I had," he said.

And now he said it is time for the campaign to surpass its own expectations. Following an on-air auction on Wayne Alley's WGBR-1150 AM morning radio show that collected $800, Bring It On was still about 2 percent, or about $25,000, from its $1.44 million goal.

Local residents and businesses can do their part and contribute until Thursday by dropping off donations at the United Way office or mailing them to Bring It On Push, 308 N. William St., Goldsboro, N.C., 27530.

But it is not the money or goal challenge that is the reason for Hulse's adventure Saturday. It is the thought of the 28,800 Wayne County residents who will be helped by reaching the United Way's 2006 campaign goal, he said.

Hulse said he knows Wayne County will step up to the challenge -- just as residents and volunteers did to get the campaign this far.

"I think it will be a success if the love and commitment of people in Goldsboro, Mount Olive, Seymour Johnson and the other communities see their friends in need and decide to help out," Hulse said.

And no matter what the final number, the campaign chairman said residents and volunteers should be proud of how far they have come in just a few weeks.

"We did this together," he said.