"Do one thing every day that scares you." -Eleanor Roosevelt
My friend Matt Blank started up Free Fall Foundation, a nonprofit committed to sharing the sky with those who can't afford the cost of skydiving.
Free Fall has already gifted free skydives to inspiring people living their life with perserverance and against great odds and are looking for more nominees.
Free Fall is based on a nomination system and I would love to nominate you so please PM me or comment and tell me why you would like to be nominated or if you know someone who should do be. The gifted tandems happen in Southern California (and I believe in Chicago).
Personally, I would love to nominate a fellow GNEM patient or fellow "disabled" wheelie, or someone who has overcome or dealing with sickness or just someone who is doing good in the world and always wanted to skydive.
As many of you know, I try to live my life beyond my chair and beyond my progressive GNE Myopathy. Despite its potential grim future I choose to live my life as well and as free as I can. I’ve parasailed, dived in Great Barrier Reef, travel, trailed down Pacific Coast Highway from San Francisco to Los Angeles in a plastic bucket hitched to a bicycle and also skydived (unfortunately not with FreeFall). You can read about my 2011 skydiving experience in my former blog post "KamDive, Skydive".
My condition and move to California has sparked me to live by a “Why not?” philosophy. As I wrote in Overcome, an article in my former KoreAM column about my skydiving experience, despite my immense fear of heights I felt I should try it because when you’ve lost everything, in a sense, there’s really nothing else to lose. All my other fears and obstacles seem to pale in comparison. I try to be open to anything at least once and because of this kind of thinking I have tried so many new things my former self would never dream of.
I've had the opportunity to make friends with many skydivers and get an inside look into their close knit community and I admire their passion for love and living life to the fullest; they are a great group of people who are eager to share their passions to newcomers.
“As skydivers we have realized the amazing potential of our sport to enrich our lives and turn the edges of life we once feared falling over into the wonderful balconies we enjoy today.
Anyone who has skydived experiences an indescribable feeling when they hit the air that we believe everyone should have the opportunity to enjoy.”
A little about Free Fall founder Matt Blank:
Matt grew up in Southern California skateboarding and BMX racing. Most of his teenage mornings were spent surfing and bodyboarding. He served as a rock climbing instructor through college, which helped him afford college and complete a degree in Psychology and Social Behavior with a minor in film. Matt even worked technical rope and Cave Search and Rescue for the San Bernardino Sheriff Department. After college his interests shifted towards skydiving, and BASE jumping as well as instructng freestyle mountain snowboarding and skydiving classes.
Matt has jumped from one extreme community to the next as a commercial stuntman athlete like skydiving, BMX racing, rock-climbing, Space Net Base Jumping over Moab Desert, Sidecar racing and even BASE Jump with a Mountain bike. Matt travels the world collaborating and conceiving new daring adventures with like-minded athletes and has completed hundreds and hundreds of dives so I would trust your first tandem with him and Free Fall.
For years Matt mentally tossed around the idea of sharing his passion for the sky with those who couldn’t afford the experience. After Matt lost two of his close friends, Matt Kenney and Kevin Morroun, he decided the time was now to fulfill his dream.
"I can't spend another year waiting for the situation to be right; I can't put it off anymore," Blank, 29, said in an interview this week. "I need to do this now."
Both Kenney and Morroun shared their friend's dream of starting a nonprofit to gift free tandem skydives, so last year Matt founded his nonprofit in honor of his two dear friends and has since gifted tandems to people who had dreams of skydiving; those with multiple sclerosis, those who lost loved ones, cancer patients and those who set out to tackle fears and obstacles living with new mantra of “I choose to live".
I've heard people say those who live on the edge are reckless and even immature or selfish. But if we shift our thinking we may see the beauty of how people choose to live their life and the great summits they have accomplished because of it, even if it is the complete opposite of how we choose to live ours. There is beauty in the differences between us, and those who choose risk and roll the dice every day remind us of how many kinds of people there are in this world and how lucky we are to experience a different perspective through someone else's life, even if we ourselves would never dare to do the same.
Every day of our life is risky. You could be in a car accident tomorrow. You could be walking a cross walk and get hit and left a paraplegic. You could be jumping on a trampoline and become a quadriplegic or you could be like me who due to no risk of my own doing was blind-sided by a severely rare and disabling genetic muscle condition at age 20; the most productive time of my life with a condition that ravages until its promises of leaving me a quadriplegic is fulfilled. These "You could..." are not meant to keep us in fear, yet a reminder of how fragile life is.
Some choose to live a safe and conservative life and that is ok if it works for them, but some choose the opposite and that is also ok. I live by the philosophy that it is not my place to judge how people choose to live their life, instead unique people deeply peek my interest because their life is something I can learn from. I'm far more judgmental about narcissists and arrogance than I am about lifestyles people choose to live out. My main concern is are you a good person and are you authentic to who you are? Everything else is not my concern unless their activities are at the expense of an unwilling participant like rape, murder, molestation, exploitation, war...
I'm all for people living their life freely.
I think we can all benefit from seeing life from the lens of those who do it different and hopefully their life inspires us to live an authentic life and even consider something we never considered doing.
Please, message me or leave a comment if you would like to be nominated and/or know someone who should be, and/or nominate someone at: http://www.freefallfoundation.org. XO
"There are so many people in this world that see all these limitations, and they're self-imposed ones."
"Skydiving, Blank said, creates a visceral fear — "pretty much everything in your body tells you not to jump out of that plane" — and conquering it shows people that they can push their limits."
"Once you jump and smile all the way down and land safely on the ground, you realize that all this fear you impose on yourself is completely changeable," he said. "All of these limits you put on yourself, you realize you can overcome."
"Then you look at the world a different way. You don't look at it in terms of barriers; you look at it in terms of challenges." -Matt Blank
Indeed, my thoughts exactly.