By Eric Newman
Three senior couples from Mesa checked a visit to the Grand Canyon off their bucket list in recently thanks to Jump!, a nonprofit organization aiming to give the elderly “incredible experiences.”
The three couples from Mountain View Estates in Mesa were selected out of a group attending a presentation by Jump! founder Webb Weiman, who showed them videos of the nearly 35 wishes he has granted for eight years. Each of the couples wanted to experience different aspects of Northern Arizona.
The group, which included the six participants, Weiman and a photo-video crew, rode the Williams Train to see route 66, flew over the Grand Canyon in a chartered plane, and ziplined at the canyon’s west side last month.
Susan Grimm, one of this year’s participants, had heard for years about the sightseeing on the train out of Williams and had the chance with Jump! to experience it herself.
“We got to go in the back of the caboose and stand out on the ledge and watch the tracks and see the scenery. It was beautiful,” says Grimm. “And then next thing we’re in a small plane flying over and that was great, and then we’re all going ziplining. I couldn’t believe it.”
When Weiman’s mother died of cancer, his father was living “in isolation and without purpose” in his own home.
Weiman wanted to show his elderly father – and those in similar situations – that life does not have to be over at that age and that there can still be excitement.
Jump! was founded in 2013 and is based in La Quinta, California. Since its inception, Jump! has helped seniors achieve long-cherished dreams ranging from skydiving to race car driving, parasailing, riding the Goodyear Blimp, to even learning how to drive an 18-wheeler.
“Everything Jump! does is inspired by an enduring mission to inspire seniors throughout the country to take a leap of faith in fulfilling their dreams; to sustain relationships with these special individuals long after their experience with Jump!; to tell the stories of seniors who maintain incredible lifestyles in hopes it will inspire others to do the same, and to enrich the lives of as many seniors as possible, especially those living in isolation and without the means to fulfill their dreams,” a spokeswoman says.
The organization raises money through an annual pie sale in Palm Springs and several donors to give those who normally would not have hope to have one last hurrah to have it fully paid for and organized.
The name “Jump!” was inspired by the first recipient of Weiman’s services, a woman who went skydiving at 90 years old.
“We have a woman jumping out of a plane on her 90th birthday so she could try and feel closer to her late husband. And for me, I was jumping out of 24 years in television production, and the name just fit,” Weiman says.
Since then, Weiman has taken veterans to see war memorials in Washington, D.C, race car driving, hot air balloon riding and more, mostly in southern California. However, Jump! has done two other excursions out of Arizona.
A Tempe woman rode a purple Harley Davidson motorcycle for the first time, and a woman from Tucson was filmed by Weiman’s camera crew after learning to play piano at a late age.
“Man, you should have seen her riding that bike, it was a site to behold,” he recollects.
Weiman is alongside the seniors for nearly all the excursions, seeing first-hand the impact his organization has on them.
He loves the positive reactions he sees from people after they have been selected and during the adventures. He appreciates the vitality the adventures give the seniors for years to come even more.
“I’m most passionate about the letters and emails and phone calls I get months and even years later, from the children and grandchildren talking about how their grandparents or parents can’t stop talking about the trip, and it sparks a new light in their life,” Weiman says.
After seeing some of the most beauty Arizona has to offer, March’s adventure will certainly be something Grimm and the other Mesa participants remember for the rest of their lives.
“We didn’t have to go through the process of mapping all of it out, and take care of the details. We just showed up and had fun. We’re all so appreciative,” Grimm says.