American Legion Department of Florida Commander Art Schwabe has never parachuted out of an airplane before. However, that could all change come May when the department's 2013-2014 membership numbers are announced. And he may not be jumping alone — Department Adjutant Mike McDaniel may be right behind him.
During the Department of Florida's convention last summer, Schwabe told Legionnaires that if membership reaches 108 percent, he will parachute out of an airplane — an idea that originated from watching the movie "The Bucket List." "Sometimes you just have to do fun and crazy things to get people fired up," Schwabe said. McDaniel, who Schwabe included in the membership challenge "without telling him," will jump if membership reaches 110 percent.
"I put it out there as a challenge, but I'm not going to do it (jump) just for fun," Schwabe said. "They have to work for it if I'm going to jump. It's a challenge to every Legionnaire in Florida."
Schwabe and McDaniel have enjoyed the excitement the challenge has sparked among Florida Legionnaires, as well as the chatter it has created between the two of them.
"All year we have been bantering around and he (Schwabe) says, ‘110 and go to heaven,' and I say, ‘109 and stay fine,'" McDaniel said. "He's been telling (Legion) members that I'm jumping, and I tell them ‘No, no, no. He's confused.'
"If they hit the magic number, I will jump." Or, according to T-shirts being circulated around Florida, be pulled out of the plane.
Schwabe and McDaniel have been handing out lime green and orange T-shirts to Legionnaires that show a caricature of McDaniel holding on to a plane saying, "We haven't validated the @!#@! numbers yet!!!" as Schwabe is trying to pull him from the plane saying, "That's 110 & you're jumpin'!!!!"
The airport has been reserved for Schwabe and McDaniel to take flight and jump in May. Now, "it's a matter of the department getting behind the goal," Schwabe said. "I'd like to see the adjutant jump as well."