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McGovern’s Extreme Ways To Raise Awareness

October 22, 2012, 9:52 PM by Shawn Neisteadt

McGovern’s Extreme Ways To Raise Awareness

The late Senator George McGovern found a unique way to draw national attention to his greatest cause.

McGovern was a World War II pilot, but a trip into the sky for his 88th birthday was unlike previous missions.  The flight in 2010 took the former Senator on a freefall.

"I'm looking forward to my first jump in my life," McGovern said in July 2010 while on the airplane.

The skydive from 18,000 feet in Florida gained McGovern national attention.  The tandem jump went exactly as planned. 

"For the first time, you've jumped from a plane, how do you feel?" asked the instructor.

"I feel great," McGovern said.

In the summer of 2011, McGovern celebrated his 89th birthday by getting behind the wheel of a sprint car at Huset's Speedway near Brandon.

"There's a lot of power under that hood.  And you just touch that accelerator and, woom, and it takes a while to get used to that," McGovern said following his time in the racecar.

McGovern's laps around the track ended much like his skydive the year before.  McGovern would turn the attention an extreme sport would generate to his long-time cause.

"The reason I jumped last year and raced this year is that I'm dedicating these efforts to the hungry kids around the world," McGovern said in July 2011.

Whether it was high in the sky or at high speeds, McGovern's efforts were successful in raising that attention.  And as a side benefit, McGovern created some once-in-a-lifetime memories.

"It's been a great night and I won't forget it for a long time," McGovern said.

And neither will those who witnessed the amazing feats.

McGovern spoke openly about his World War II experiences.  When asked about that in relation to the sky dive, he said he always wore a parachute while flying in the war, but never had to jump.  When asked about comparing the race car to a war plane, he said the biggest difference in controlling the two machines was his age.

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