South Charlotte

Pineville’s Jeremy’s Jump to benefit those with special needs

The second annual Jeremy’s Jump, a 10-hour relay jump-a-thon, will be Nov. 16 at Sky High Sports in Pineville.

The event is a way to honor the memory of Jeremy Alpern, promote acceptance of children and teens with special needs and raise money for the Friendship Circle.

The Friendship Circle is an international outreach program that helps “children with special needs discover talents and skills nobody thought they had, and teens who volunteer learn how to appreciate life, be nonjudgmental and see others for who they really are,” said Stonehaven resident Bentzion Groner, 31, director of Friendship Circle.

Friendship Circle teen volunteer and former Charlotte resident Caley Coughlan, 14, founded Jeremy’s Jump last year to honor the memory of her special friend and bowling buddy who passed away at age 41 in February 2013.

In 2012 Caley had been paired with Jeremy, who had special needs, and they had gone bowling once a week for four weeks.

“Even though (Jeremy) couldn’t walk, talk or even throw his own bowling ball, together we had a blast,” Caley said. “I could tell he loved it by his great smile and his sounds.”

When she heard that he had passed away, Caley was moved to create something positive in his honor. Jeremy’s Jump was the result, and the inaugural Jeremy’s Jump raised $7,000 for Friendship Circle programs, which included cooking, music, art, sports, martial arts, bowling, and Friends@Home.

Although Caley moved to Denver, Colo., with her family over the summer, she felt so passionate about raising money for the Friendship Circle that she decided to help plan the second annual jump-a-thon via conference calls and emails with the organizers, Groner, Rochel Groner, Peggy Humphries and Janice Cantor, Jeremy’s mother. Caley said she plans to drive in for the event.

“I want people all over the world to be aware of the impacts Jeremy had on me, and I want everyone to raise money for Friendship Circle,” Caley said. “I want Jeremy’s Jump to be worldwide and have it all benefit Friendship Circle and the people involved.”

On Nov. 16, Sky High Sports will be available to the jumpers for 10 hours. Owner Alan Davis donated the use of the facility and has added a ropes course, a laser maze, and other fun things for the jumpers to enjoy.

From 10 a.m. until noon, preschool-aged kids will jump. From noon until 4 p.m., the whole family can jump, and from 4-6 p.m., the jumping is open for all ages. The 6-8 p.m. time slot has been reserved for teenagers.

Also new this year is an Awareness Pledge.

“This year we’ve renewed our focus on spreading awareness for children and young adults with special needs by asking jumpers and supporters to make an Awareness Pledge to look out for those who may seem lonely and in need of a friend,” Groner said.

Oona Erickson, 8, jumped last year and plans to jump again.

“I wanted to help raise money for special needs kids to go to camp,” Oona said. “When I got there and did it, I thought it was so fun to do too. I wanted to do it again this year.”

“Next year Caley hopes to start a Jeremy’s Jump in Colorado to raise money for special needs children in her new community,” Cantor said. “My daughter, Aviva, is hoping to get a Jump going next year in Wisconsin, where she resides. We are slowly working toward our goal of having many Jumps in many cities in memory of my Jeremy.”