One of my goals in my Pursuit of Passion was to do things that were out of my comfort zone. There is just something powerful when you try something new, something uncomfortable, and something that challenges your feeling of normalcy. So……….this was why I made the decision to jump out of an airplane! YES, with a parachute & NO you guys aren’t that lucky and you will have to read more of my blog posts.
I always said that the only way I was going to jump of out a plane was because “I have had it with these mother-fucking Snakes on this mother-fucking plane!” (YES that was a quote from Snakes on a Plane).
I would then usually make some joke about how I don’t like being off the ground “a crack at how my basketball ability never included high flying dunks, due to my White Man Can’t Jump vertical.
As I was driving through Colorado, witnessing the beauty of snow capped mountains and picturesque scenery, I had this strong feeling come over me that I wanted to SkyDive. I pulled over in the first small town that provided sufficient cell phone service and started to google places I could go SkyDiving. I found 5 different locations all within a 2-3 hour drive and I started to place phone calls with a request to skydive. Every place I called had the same answer:
“YES we have openings, but NO you can’t sky dive here. We don’t have equipment big enough to accommodate someone your size.”
I started to get frustrated as it seemed that maybe I was going to have to either shrink or lose some weight. I know I won’t shrink and honestly losing weight seems about as impossible sometimes. I had one more location left to contact, but I was expecting to get a very similar response when they answered. The facility was called High Sky Adventures Parachute Club and on the website it stated that it was the oldest drop zone in the State of Colorado. It was also located in Penrose, CO (a town with a population around 4,000) and definitely out of my way. I really had this strong urge to jump out of a plane so I decided that I would give it one last shot. By the time I was gong to call it was late, so I decided I would just send an email letting them know I was going to be in town and explaining my size as a potential limitation.
Shortly after I send out the email I get this response from Skip Moreau (the owner):
“Attached find info on our skydiving class. We can do your weight, because of your height….static line. You would jump by yourself. This is providing you have not medical issues. You are too heavy for a tandem jump.”
I hadn’t planned on jumping out of a plane by myself, which just added to the anxiety about making the leap to actually skydive (Yes…… the pun was intended). I decided that this entire trip I have said YES, to a lot of things that I normally would have said NO to. My willingness to say YES and try new things has led to some spectacular experiences and introductions to some amazing people. Even though this was scary and something that was out of my comfort zone, I knew I just had to do it.
I know it seems like a reoccurring theme along my trip, but my decision to go skydiving at High Sky Adventures Parachute Club and the reason they were the only place that would accept me was not a coincidence. There was a plan, a purpose, and a reason that I was going to be driving several hours out of my way to go skydiving at this exact location, and it wasn’t just to be a thrill seeker. I didn’t realize at the moment, but God was sending me to meet someone that would have me in awe due to their strength, courage, and perseverance.
I leave Denver after my lunch with Tyson and I take the long drive to Penrose, CO on Friday night and underwent a 2-3 hour course on how to Skydive. We went through the process of how to get out of the plane, the safe way to jump, how to handle emergencies (a list of about 20+), how to land properly (which I didn’t listen closely enough apparently) and more information on life saving techniques. I always thought when I tried jumping out of a plane I would be attached to a professional and it would be more like an amusement ride with the thrill of some added danger. The idea that I had to learn how to jump out safely, what to do if the parachute malfunctions (to save my life), how to control the parachute, and how to land was definitely more than I had originally bargained for. My adrenaline was already pumping, which led to a lack of sleep that night, which led to anxiety about not being rested enough to perform properly in case of an emergency. The next morning I decided that a Red Bull would do the trick to give me energy and keep me focused, I mean it does give you wings. I headed back to the facility, hoped up on caffeine, ready for a 9am jump and an experience of a lifetime.
“Is this God telling me to get out and run?” I thought.
“Do you mind if I ask what happened to your arm?”
“Yeah, No worries at all. I did it Skydiving. I hit that trailer right there.”
“Oh, Shit,” I thought. I am so glad I waited until after I jumped to ask him how it happened.
Tommy then replies with a huge grin on his face “You think skydiving is fun with two arms, you should try it with one arm.”
“It is my passion and I just love it. I was not going to let this accident stop me from doing what I love.”
Ok God! You win! Once again you have sent me somewhere to not only have this transformational experience of jumping out of a plane and feeling a peace of heaven while I was in the air, but you made sure that I was going to be in the presence of such a special person while I had this experience. Tommy’s story is not just one of overcoming tragedy with courage and perseverance to continue to do what he loves in life. It is more than him defying the odds to become the first ever one armed skydiver in the world inspiring others to never put limits on what is possible. Tommy is also using his experiences to change the world. After going through the process of amputation he quickly realized that there were holes in the process that added stress and pain to those whom were already going through major loss. Tommy and his wife, created a non profit called Clasp Life: which aims to help others achieve their goals after tragedy, lend a helping hand to those who need a little assistance, find resources/equipment needed to make ones quality of life more fulfilling, and to inspire by showing others that nothing is impossible.
As Tommy was sharing information about his non profit you can see the excitement he gets knowing that he took a situation that many would see as negative and not only turn it into a positive for him, but he has turned it into a positive to the hundreds of people he has helped with his non profit and his story. Tommy Fergerson is truly one of a kind and while my experience skydiving was amazing, my experience meeting Tommy, hearing his story, and feeling his energy is one that gave me an adrenaline rush that even jumping out of a plane could not fulfill.
- Tommy’s NonProfit: Clasp Life Website:
- Tommy’s Book: “What the Freak Did I Hit”
- Video of Tommy’s Mother’s Day Tribute Jump: