A wheelchair user is set to take on the world’s highest commercial bungee jump in South Africa to raise vital funds for the assistance dog charity that transformed her life.
Jackie Kennedy, from Poplar in East London, will be jumping 709 feet from Bloukrans Bridge in Tsisikamma, South Africa, on Tuesday 5 February despite having a serious neurological condition. “I have decided to take part in this challenge to thank Canine Partners for partnering me with the most amazing dog in the world, my precious boy canine partner Kingston, as my life has been totally transformed in ways I could never imagine,” says 53-year-old Jackie. “Thanks to this awesome charity and my utterly amazing canine partner, I now have a life where I am living it to the fullest and not merely existing as I was previously.”
Jackie was diagnosed with Cauda Equine Syndrome and spinal stenosis in 2007 and although she underwent two emergency operations, she was left with severe weakness in the lower half of her body and has to use a wheelchair full time. “Kingston helps me to get undressed, he accompanies me to the shower where he will take off my clothes and put them into the washing machine and then pass me my towel when I need it,” says Jackie. “He helps me get in and out of bed, he will open and close doors and retrieve items from low shelves when shopping, which is just some of many things. I couldn’t do without him.”
Canine Partners is a national charity that trains amazing assistance dogs to transform the lives of people with disabilities, boosting their confidence and independence.
The dogs are taught a range of everyday tasks including picking up and fetching items, opening doors and helping to undress a person. They can even help to load and unload a washing machine and they can fetch help in an emergency. “I have been partnered for three years and each day of my partnership with Kingston has been truly magical,” says Jackie. “I now have a life full of fun and adventure and I want to be able to pass that gift of independence on to another disabled person so they can too live a life of independence with a life transforming canine partner by their side.”
Jackie is aiming to raise £10,000 to sponsor an amazing puppy from selection at eight weeks old through to being matched with a physically disabled person on the waiting list. “I wanted to take part in something that would challenge me and I have a morbid fear of heights so thought this would be a great opportunity to overcome that fear and make a difference to someone else’s life in the progress,” says Jackie. “I have been learning meditation and relaxation techniques in the hope that these will help ease my nerves on the day!” Once she hits her fundraising target, Jackie hopes to take on another challenge to sponsor a second amazing puppy with ideas including a 4,000 metre skydive, an abseil down the side of Table Mountain in Cape Town and a bungee jump from the Grand Canyon in the USA. “I am really looking forward to the day that the puppy I have sponsored is at their partnership ceremony with his human partner and I get to listen to just how much the puppy has transformed the partners life,” says Jackie.
“When I see the sheer joy in their partner’s eyes and the smile on their face, then I will know taking on this challenge was worthwhile.”
To sponsor Jackie please visit justgiving.com/fundraising/jackieandkingston or text JAXX93 and either £3, £5 or £10 to 70070. Please visit caninepartners.org.uk to find out more information about Canine Partners or to take on a challenge yourself.