Wheelchair user leaps off South African bridge to raise vital funds for assistance dog charity

A wheelchair user with a serious neurological condition leapt off the world’s highest commercial bungee jump to raise vital funds for Canine Partners, the assistance dog charity that transformed her life.

Jackie Kennedy, from Poplar in East London, jumped 709 feet from Bloukrans Bridge in Tsisikamma, South Africa, at the beginning of February 2019. “Suddenly I was on the bridge looking at the breath-taking views and I had taken a photograph of the puppy I am sponsoring with me to remind myself why I was hurling myself off of it,” says 53-year-old Jackie. “Before I knew it I was all harnessed up and standing with my toes on the edge and my heart started to race, I was absolutely terrified but pulling out wasn’t an option for me.”

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.

“I thought about how much my canine partner Kingston has changed my life and how I want another person living with disabilities to have the gift of independence that Kingston gave me,” says Jackie. “It was terrifying and exhilarating, the views were magnificent and I am so proud of myself for facing one of my biggest fears.”

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 am already thinking about my next challenge in aid of Canine Partners and I think I’ve definitely become a bit of an adrenaline junkie,” says Jackie. “I would definitely do the bungee jump again; I think I’ve conquered my fear of heights!”

Jackie has already raised over £6,000 but is aiming for £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. Please visit caninepartners.org.uk to find out more information about Canine Partners or to take on a challenge yourself.

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