NEW WINDSOR—It’s hard to imagine a more adrenaline-filled game of paintball than to have players shooting from the sky and the ground, which is possibly why for the third year, Independent Helicopters is donating their time and aircraft for a paintball fundraiser for cancer.
It is a normal game except that up to three people are shooting from Independent Helicopter’s Robinson 44 at opponents on the ground. The rides last about five minutes but the game goes on all day, and all the proceeds go to fighting cancer.
CEO and chief pilot of Independent Helicopters, Heather Howley, was approached in 2014 by the upstate Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) to do the fundraiser, and she raised $16,000 in a regional and national competition to be the LLS Woman of the Year.
LLS Man and Woman of the Year is a title granted to whoever raises the most money for these blood cancers in 10 weeks.
This year Howley has passed the baton to Matt Taggard, Independent Helicopters’ operation manager and chief assistant pilot, who has a goal to raise over $100,000.
In 2006, Taggard lost his father to non-Hodgkins, mantle cell Lymphoma after an eight-year battle with the cancer.
“He was, and remains, my hero to this day,” Taggard wrote in an email. “He was a man of both strength and dignity even as he faced his own death and I miss him deeply.”
Taggard has other family who have passed from Lymphoma, including his father’s mother, and his mother is currently fighting cancer. He says they are his inspiration to raise money for LLS.
“Everyone wins when cancer loses,” he wrote in his campaign letter.
Independent Helicopters is putting on a paintball fundraiser at MSG (Montgomery Sporting Goods) Paintball in Middletown on April 3 where Taggard will be flying, and another on April 9 at Capital Combat Zone in Brunswick, New York. They will also be holding a Fly In Breakfast at Saratoga Airport on April 30.
Already they have hosted a 5K run fundraiser at Stewart Airport, where they are based, a Paint and Sip in Poughkeepsie, and a kickoff party in Newburgh.
Howley said there is no age limit for people who want to fly, but there is a maximum weight limit. Women who are pregnant and those with heart conditions should consult their doctor before flying.
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