Canopies for Kids was founded in by Matt Kuikman and Taryn McKay. The concept for Canopies for Kids was thought up by Matt Kuikman in the Fall of 2009, however this vision went unrealized until two years later when he caught up with grade school friend Taryn McKay and the two discovered their shared passion for skydiving. A few months later the two met up for coffee to talk over the concept and by the end of the evening, the Canopies for Kids project was born.
Matt Kuikman is a Chicago native who graduated from Indiana University in 2007 with degrees in marketing and entrepreneurship. After graduating he returned home to Chicago where he spent some time in the training and consulting industry before moving on to digital marketing. Most recently in December of 2013 he packed up his bags and moved to Madison, WI to go work a dream job of his at Trek Bicycle.
When he’s not jumping out of perfectly good airplanes or working on Canopies for Kids, you’ll likely find him on his bicycle. Matt is an avid cyclist and an Ironman triathlete. While at university he fell in love with cycling after riding in Indiana’s famed Little 500. However the Little 500 wasn’t the only event that left a lasting impression on Matt. In the Fall of his junior year he participated in the Indiana University Dance Marathon, a 36 hour event that benefits the Riley Hospital or Children. Needless to say his experience with IUDM was one that helped inspire the Canopies for Kids concept. He is still in the process of obtaining his Class A license.
Matt lives just outside of Madison, WI where he enjoys photography, traveling, and brewing craft beer.
Taryn McKay grew up in the Chicago suburbs and spent 4 years in Michigan, where she attended Grand Valley State University. After graduating with degrees in Finance and Real Estate Economics, she returned to Chicago and began working for a Commercial Real Estate business handling Accounting and Property Management.
On July 4th, 2007, Taryn enjoyed her first skydive, and immediately realized that jumping 14,500 feet out of an airplane was not going to be just a once in a lifetime experience for her. Despite her fear of heights, Taryn has eagerly entered into freefall over a dozen times. Since moving back to Chicago, Taryn has also been a regular volunteer with ChicagoCares and The Glass Slipper Project. When Matt approached her with the idea of Canopies for Kids, Taryn was excited to get involved with an organization that combined two of her passions.
Taryn also resides on the North Side of Chicago, where she enjoys fanatically rooting on the Cubs and the Bears, regardless of how painful it may be at times.
Pete hails to us from Australia where he grew up in New South Wales. As such he frequently spends his winters “hibernating” at Bondi beach where he’s either catching some rays or riding the waves. But come Spring you’ll find him back in the states jumping out of airplanes with the rest of us yanks.
All-and-all he lives a pretty care free life, and keeps us all entertained with his crazy stories of adventure and witty sense of humor. He’s a bear of many talents and never hesitates to show boat for the ladies. When he’s not hanging out at the DZ or getting our bears ready for their jumps, you’ll often find him exploring the Windy City in search of his next adventure or some tasty American cuisine to eat.
Spring through Autumn he lives in Madison, WI with his human partner in crime: Matt – where he enjoys playing rugby in the park, helping out children’s hospitals, and eating the heaps of Tim Tams he brought back from down under… now if we could only figure out where he hides them.