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Bush parachutes for 80th birthday

Former president could not go solo


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Former President Bush plans to jump from a plane on his 80th birthday.
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CRAWFORD, Texas (CNN) -- Former President George H.W. Bush made two parachute jumps Sunday as part of events celebrating his 80th birthday.

The nation's 41st president made the two jumps over his presidential library in College Station, Texas.

As a young Navy pilot during World War II, Bush had to bail out of his plane after it took enemy fire.

Earlier this week, Bush told CNN that he wanted to send a message that "just because you're 80, that doesn't mean you can't do fun stuff or interesting things."

Both jumps were tandem jumps -- with an experienced jumper attached to him.

The second jump was originally planned as a solo effort -- but was changed to a tandem jump because of windy conditions.

Saturday night, the former president celebrated with a gala dinner at Minute Maid Park in Houston, Texas, home of the Astros baseball team.

Gorbachev and Major among guests

A number of foreign dignitaries attended, including former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev and former British Prime Minister John Major.

Other famous faces on hand included comedian and CNBC host Dennis Miller, tennis star Chris Evert and pro golfer Greg Norman.

The guests were entertained by stars of country and Christian music, including singers Clint Black, Vince Gill, Amy Grant and Yolanda Adams.

Proceeds from the event will go to the George Bush Forty-One endowment, which helps fund the George Bush Presidential Library Foundation, the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center and the Points of Light Foundation.

Jim McGrath, a spokesman for the group "41@80," which helped organize the events, said the 41st president "remains actively involved in all three of these organizations."

In light of former President Ronald Reagan's death, McGrath also said on the group's Web site: "Given the charitable nature of these events, we believe President Reagan would be the first to say 'the show must go on.' "

CNN's Elaine Quijano and Jen Yuille contributed to this report.


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