September 7, 2017
I was so shocked to hear about the passing of my friend, Dan Rossi.
Back in 2001, Dan hiked to Everest base camp with me and my climbing team. Blind like me, Dan showed his grit and positive mindset; it’s a long, rocky, high-altitude trail and Dan forged ahead every day with a smile on his face and with a sense of happiness and gratitude. However, he’d been a mentor of mine long before that.
As the 1st blind skydiver I’d ever heard of, Dan was a trailblazer. After hearing of his exploits in 1995, I called Dan out of the blue and picked his brain: how he pioneered ways to pull his shoot with a talking altimeter and to steer himself down with radio assistance from the ground. He inspired me; he said, “If I can do it, you can too.”
Dan always had great stories, like the time he drifted off course due to high wind and his radio communication became out-of-range. However, he knew the ground was approaching when he heard the crickets chirping. He ended up suspended from a farmer’s tree in the middle of Amish country. He had to yell out: “Excuse me - I’m a blind skydiver and I’m in need of assistance!” The farmer wound up driving him back to the drop zone in his horse and buggy.
None of us know how much time we can expect, but Dan lived way bigger than he died. That’s the best we can all hope for: like Dan, to live an exemplary life. I’ll miss you, Bro!
Prayers go out to his family: his wife, Teresa and daughter, Sophia.
Read his full obituary here: