5,000 Plus People Help Former President George H.W. Bush Celebrate 80th Birthday
Former President Bush Celebrates Birthday
By JUAN A. LOZANO, Associated Press Writer
HOUSTON - More than 5,000 people were expected to help former President George H.W. Bush celebrate his 80th birthday Saturday night, part of a weekend of festivities to be topped with a skydive Sunday.
The skydive will be "very safe. It will be a thrill for me," the nation's 41st president said at a luncheon in his honor Saturday at the University of Texas.
Bush has made four parachute jumps in his life ? the first as a Navy pilot shot down over the Pacific during World War II. He has made the other jumps since leaving the White House more than a decade ago, including one on his 75th birthday.
On Saturday night, President George W. Bush (news - web sites) will be among the political leaders and other guests expected at his father's birthday gala at Houston's Minute Maid Park. Larry King, Dennis Miller and Bo Derek were among the celebrities expected to attend.
The party serves as a fund-raiser for the George Bush Forty-One Endowment, which is trying to raise $30 million to support his presidential library, the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center and his Points of Light Foundation.
Officials at M.D. Anderson thanked Bush and his wife, Barbara, for their fund-raising efforts on behalf of the cancer center by unveiling the Robin Bush Child and Adolescent Clinic. The facility was named for the Bushes' 3-year-old daughter, who died from leukemia in 1953.
The George and Barbara Bush Endowment for Innovative Cancer Research at M.D. Anderson has raised more than $50 million since its founding in 1998.
The elder Bush intends to make his parachute jump Sunday over Texas A&M University in College Station, the home of his presidential library and museum.
Bush Sr. set for skydiving to kick off 80th birthday
Washington, June 10
Come Sunday, former US President George Bush will don a parachute and jump off a plane to celebrate his 80th birthday. Bush Sr. is in fine fettle and is looking forward to the jump from a height of 13,000 feet.
The 41st American president said on Wednesday: ?People say: ?Why are you doing this, you nutty old man?? I say: one because I want to. It feels good. There?s a thrill involved. And two: Just because you?re 80 doesn?t mean you?re finished.?
It will be the fourth parachute jump of his life. The last one was in 1999 to celebrate his 75th birthday. The first jump was in 1944 when, as a 20-year-old Navy pilot, he bailed out of a plane that was shot down over the Pacific island of Chi Chi Jima.
The Sunday event in College Station, Texas comes close on the heels of former President Ronald Reagan?s funeral. At the National Cathedral ceremony here, Bush Sr. will deliver an eulogy in honour of his predecessor. Soon thereafter, he and his wife, Barbara Bush, will leave for Houston.
A committee calling itself 41@80 (80th birthday of the 41st president of the US) says the weekend events will go on as scheduled as the programme is in aid of three charities. More than 5,000 people have bought tickets for the Bush gala and the parachute jump.
?Given the charitable nature of these events, we believe President Reagan would be the first to say ?the show must go on?,? commented 41@80 spokesman Jim McGrath.
Unlike the last time, when he did a tandem jump, Bush will be attending the more daring solo jump. He, however, will be surrounded by members of the Golden
Knights, the US army parachute team. ?That is just in case I mess up,? Bush told CNN?s Larry King Live.
?This is a very, very important thing to the president, this is a solo jump. There will be knights around him, but it is not a tandem jump,? McGrath said.
Proceeds from the weekend will go to the George Bush Forty-One Endowment, which was created to fund the George Bush Presidential Library Foundation, the University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, and the Points of Light Foundation.
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