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July 15, 2013

Skydivers 'drop in' at golf course

LOCKPORT — Four skydivers dropped in at the Willowbrook Golf Course on Monday afternoon where the Niagara USA Chamber held its annual golf classic.

The jumpers circled the course as they glided down to the ground. Despite circling, they all came in from the south and landed just to the east of the course's lake.

The idea was hatched by Niagara USA board member John Benoit, a Lockport resident who has made 1,900 jumps since 1971.

"We wanted to draw attention to the chamber mission," Benoit explained, "anything we can do to get the public and business people aware of us is a good thing."

Benoit was the last in the group to jump from an airplane that circled overhead for about 10 minutes prior.

The other jumpers included Paul Wiers of Lockport, Les Spoth of Pendleton and Jason Berger of Williamsville.

All four landed in the same area of the golf course, near the clubhouse where participants in the golf classic enthusiastically cheered them on.

Benoit said the four members of his group have 6,000 combined jumps.

"Our pilot probably has that many himself," Benoit added, referring to Paul Gath of Java.

The jump was certainly a first for the chamber.

Niagara USA President and CEO Deanna Brennen said Benoit called her one day, suggesting they do "something different" with the golf outing; something that would stand out from the gift basket auction and other features.

"I never expected four men to jump onto the course," Brennen said. "He said he lived nearby and it would be easy to do."

Brennan suggested jokingly that the chamber's board of directors should do it as a retreat.

"None of the other board members liked that idea," she said with a laugh.

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