She’s a mother of six. She’s an attorney. She’s Barrington’s Village President. And now Karen Darch and three other Barrington women can add “Daredevil” to their list of impressive titles. Karen was recently invited to jump out of an airplane with the U.S. Army Parachute Team, also known as the Golden Knights. It was a first for Karen, but instead of shying away from the opportunity, she decided to take the leap.
Karen is one of four Barrington-area women who spent a day with the Golden Knights when they were in Chicago for the Air and Water Show. The ladies went through two hours of training before jumping out of a plane at 12,500 feet and free falling at 120 miles per hour attached to one of the Army’s most experienced skydivers. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime thrill that lasts about 90 seconds.
“You’re jumping out of a plane with someone you don’t know because you truly believe they know what they’re doing. That is a credit to the army and their selection of the folks that make it to this level.” Karen says she wasn’t nervous because her escort’s expertise was obvious. “They were incredibly impressive, from their skill to their attention to detail. I have complete confidence in their abilities.”
Getting the invite to jump with the Golden Knight’s Tandem Team is quite an honor, shared by the likes of Geraldo Rivera, Chuck Norris, Bill Murray and local celebrities throughout America. The mission? To give people a chance to meet our country’s Airborne Soldiers and to spread the word about opportunities to serve.
But the best part is that the guest jumpers get to add some pretty impressive photos and videos of their skydives to their family archives, like this awesome video of Harris Bank of Barrington VP, Ellaine Sambo Reyther who looks more like a stuntwoman here…
Sambo-Reyther is the Vice President and Director of Trust and Estate Services at Harris Bank in Barrington. She’s Chairman of the Board of Directors for cancer support resource, Wellness Place and also serves on the Board of Directors for WINGS, an organization that helps victims of domestic violence. It was Ellaine’s first time jumping out of an airplane and she was still high from her skydive when we talked several days later. “I’d do it again. It was awesome! It’s amazing what these guys do…”
“… ‘Army Strong’ is what their motto is and these are a bunch of gentlemen that are clearly strong mentally, physically and just of good character.” Ellaine is another “Mover and Shaker” invited by Denny Coll to join this elite group of jumpers. “We’re looking for people we can give a unique experience to, who will have influence in the community.” Denny raised his family in Barrington. He’s a West Point graduate who served in the military for 5 years, including one combat year in Vietnam.
Today Denny works as a civilian volunteer to help the army with recruiting and put the spotlight on the men and women who serve. “What most people don’t realize is that they’re just like you and me. They’re married. They have kids. They have mortgages and they have concerns. They’re just good people that have chosen a way of life that puts them in harm’s way every couple of years.”
The two other Barrington women who jumped along with Karen and Ellaine are trial lawyer Diane Klotnia and Rosemarie Mitchell, CEO of Rolling Meadows-based ABS.
The U.S. Army Parachute team was formed in 1959. There are 89 men and women on the Golden Knights team and they perform more than 27,000 jumps annually to “raise the public’s awareness of ‘The Call to Duty’ and to influence the younger generation to enlist in the U.S. Army.” The Army has over 150 job specialties for active duty soldiers and offers up to $70,000 for college loan repayment and signing bonuses in excess of $10,000.