About Leap of Faith
“Leap of Faith” is a three day seminar and healing experience based on the idea that those families of fallen service members could live life fully and in a way that honors the life of their service member, despite there terrible loss.
The seminar teaches new ideas about the grieving process, coping skills to keep moving forward, healthy living and encourages participants to strive to make a difference in the country their loved one had sacrificed his/her life for. Dr. Doug McKinley, a licensed clinical psychologist leads the seminar portion with a specific emphasis on post traumatic growth. Additional presentations on healthy lifestyle choices, and the role of exercise and nutrition in the healing process are also part of the seminar portion.
The experiential portion of the seminar encourages participants to explore feelings they may have cut off throughout the grieving process. At the Old Glory Legacy Foundation, veterans work with attendees to engage in equine interaction and other activities to explore and express deeper feelings.
As part of the seminar, attendees also have the option to take a literal “Leap of Faith” in the form of a tandem skydive with members of The All Veteran Parachute Team, led by retired Army Golden Knight Team Leader Mike Elliott. This part of the experience helps participants to learn to let go of emotions or experiences that may be holding them back in their grief journey. Group sessions give participants an opportunity to discuss the challenges and growth opportunities they face.
OSOT America covers all expenses for the participant and a support person, with the exception of travel. For more information on Leap of Faith please call (630) 971-1150 or email GoldStar@osotAmerica.org.
*We are unable to accommodate children under the age of 13
*Skydive portion of seminar is available to immediate family members of fallen over the age of 18
What Leap Participants say:
On Monday February 11, 2013, seven years since my little brother’s death and 4 days until his birthday I had the amazing honor to skydive with the US Army Golden Knights. Only God and myself can understand the impact the experience had on my heart and soul. The leap of faith program brought families together that have gone through the same pain and helped us heal and move on in a world were the rest of the world doesn’t think of our soldiers because the think there is no more war and that all of our soldiers are home. Which is not the case! The Golden Knights spent the whole day with us not just as our skydiving instructors but as our friends. They went above and beyond the call to give us the best experience possible. When I was thousand of feet above the earth falling down I can only explain the feeling of being at peace and feeling so close to heaven and closer to my brother and all of the fallen soldiers. Other families should have this healing experience, these programs are needed for the families left behind.
I can honestly say participating in the Leap of Faith seminar last October 2012 was life changing for me. After the loss of my husband, Major Paul Egli, 2.5 years ago, I was still in such a depressed and dark place that I could not see the light to look forward to another day. The Leap of Faith program truly gave me hope, confidence and most of all courage to learn how to cope with the tragedy that had occurred in our life and see things in a different light. It taught me to look at ways of honoring my husband’s life. Just like he had once taken a leap of faith by taking an oath to serve our great country, I took a leap of faith to jump out a plane and back into a life he would have wanted me to live and live to the fullest. I do that now in his honor. I must add an important part to this experience….. while my 2 daughters, ages 17 and 22 were not with me in the program, they proudly bragged about their mom jumping out a plane. It gave them strength and hope to know that I will be okay and when faced with challenges and fear in life, you take that Leap of Faith.
As a Gold Star mother, I personally made the leap of faith with the Golden Knights and it changed me for the better. Giving me more confidence that I can continue and SHOULD continue in keeping my son’s memory alive was just one of the positive things that I took away from the experience.
On May 8, 2010, I was plunged into the depths of despair and was certain I would not survive the death of my son. Nearly three years later and thanks to the efforts of osotAmerica and the Army’s Golden Knights, my grief recovery has actually become just that “recovery”. The emotional release of jumping out of an airplane and being able to spend time with the Golden Knights was a wonderful experience I will never forget. Because of Leap of Faith this Gold Star Mom has an easier time getting up every day and facing the world.
On 3 May it will be nine years since our son Cpt Christopher Kenny died inIraqand we will miss him till the day we die . Down through the years little things have happened that brought him closer , even if it was only for a short time . Back in the 90s before he went into the Army, Christopher made a jump at the civilian airport in theRedlandswhich is close toHomestead. The day I made my jump with The Golden Knights I got to see all the things he saw the day he jumped, especially the ocean that he loved so much, where we went fishing and diving as a family when we lived inMiami. It brought him close to me for a few moments. These kind of moments are what keep us going on this journey, they are priceless. Saying thank you to everyone who gave us the opportunity to make The Leap of Faith, somehow does not seem adequate , thank you so much from the bottom of our hearts . Sincerely, Jackie and Jim Kenny .
Ways that Leap impacted our lives:
1. We were able to do something that our son and fallen hero had experienced (he was a static-line qualified parachutist).
2. The Leap provided us courage to do something totally out of our comfort zone.
3. The LOF seminar was tied to the jump experience and sharing the physical challenge with other Gold Star families.
4. Knowing that you are not alone in this journey of loss and grief. Other Gold Star families shared their stories – so very important to keep the memory of our loved ones alive. Ralph and Linda Grieco, Parents of Kevin Grieco
The Leap of Faith is an awesome and inspiring program to help Families of the Fallen heal and we are saddened that it may not be able to continue.
As parents of a 5 tour combat veteran killed in combat inAfghanistanin 2010,(SSgt Matthew Weikert),the Leap of Faith program and the wonderful soldiers of the Golden Knights helped us in ways it is hard to describe. I am so grateful for this experience and the healing it provided. Our daughters (Matt’s sisters) would benefit so from this experience and the camaraderie of the Golden Knights and I hope they get the opportunity.
The Leap of Faith program came to me at a very dark time in my life. Having lost my 20 year old son to the war inAfghanistanI was awash in sorrow and didn’t know if I could ever stop crying. The L.O.F. taught me that there could be life again. When I stepped out of that plane with the Army Golden Knights I made a promise to let go of the pain and start to live again for my son. Friends told me that they could see an immediate change in me in the day and days following this event. Other Gold Star families who have not had the opportunity have expressed an interest as they are struggling to move forward.
thank you for this most awesome event.
The chance to participate in Leap of Faith was an amazing experience; I feel so blessed to have had the opportunity. It was particularly memorable and special for my son and me because our jump took place on what would have our hero Ben’s 27th birthday. Forever grateful–Never forget!
Josh and I shared a loving bond as father and son.
The Leap of Faith, with the Army Golden Knights, gave me the opportunity to experience something he loved so much:
“AIRBORNE—ALL THE WAY!”
I truly believe that I landed “lighter” than when I left the plane.
It was a wonderful experience to share and grow with other families; to learn how different we are, and yet, how much we are alike. And how we all found an inner courage.
Thank you to all the OSOT-America staff and the Golden Knights (especially Jared
The Leap of Faith was truly a life-changing weekend for me. I experienced a sense of closure and a feeling of accomplishment knowing my little brother was smiling down from heaven at me. From the seminar to the actual leap, the care and attention given by each member of the gold star community as well as the golden knights absolutely blew my mind and I look back at that weekend as one of the best of my life.
The Leap of Faith completely changed my life. It allowed me to find peace and nourishment with other families going through the same pain. Because of my “new family members” found at the Leap of Faith I have the ability to talk to people who have gone through Loss and can help me grow stronger. I now have the tools to help others in the future as well. I hope this program continues for the families who have given everything for this country’s freedom!!!
The Leap of Faith program is so much more than the awe inspiring flight through the sky, surrounded by a stillness I had only imagined in the deepest chambers of my heart. The community experienced from sharing this event with other Gold Star families and the bonding made possible only by having gone through the seminar, were the catalysts that opened my heart, preparing my soul for acceptance of the peace to be found nowhere else on Earth. In the eyes of the others I saw a reflection of the truest healing possible to a Gold Star, reunion with the presence of our lost loves. This recognition in the others reinforced the reality of the experience in ways that defy description.
More than a year and a half later, I can still recall with an almost visceral quality those feelings, emotions and realities. I can still feel my son’s smile of pride in his mom for having conquered this fear, having taken this Leap of Faith. To my dying day, I will believe that I visited my son.