Amy Chmelecki and Eliana Rodriguez.
Two of my most favorite people on this planet, two of my most critical mentors in skydiving, and two who I am beyond lucky to now call my teammates and true friends…
These two unparalleled women are being inducted into the International Skydiving Hall of Fame.
No two could deserve it more and I could not be more thrilled to shout it from the digital rooftops!
Our team, Highlight, was chatting this week about the Hall of Fame events. I shared how I go every year because I straight-up love them for so many reasons and am personally a huge believer in all the efforts being made to celebrate and safeguard the history of skydiving, to invite others into the sport and family we all love so much.
In that conversation, I mentioned the column below that I had written in 2018 called 50-year Friends that speaks to all these things. I said I would share it with them.
I thought about it, and wanted to share it with you too.
I hope it inspires you as much as it does me.
Blue Skies Magazine, November 2018
Life Coaching Column #98
By Melanie Curtis
I pick up my place card, Table 24, awesome. I walk over, say hello to a few people already there, set down my Cypres “purse” and notice a sign in the center of the table that says, “RESERVED: Jumpers Over Seventy.” We all laugh given I’m exactly 30 years off the mark. As always, the Universe (and Pat Thomas) has our back… in that seat, I got to spend the entire night sharing laughs and stories with Lenny Potts, who made me feel so special the moment I sat down listing multiple things he knew about me and my story. Seriously. I was floored. Moved. I was instantly inspired by his example of care for the individual people… the personal contributions in each person’s life and skydiving story. In this case, I was the lucky one getting the gift of his reflection. In that seat, I got to make a real memory with a legit positive champion for our sport and it’s history. Among others at Table 24 who have been in skydiving longer than I have been alive.
I loved every minute of it.
It was the International Skydiving Museum and Hall of Fame celebration at Zhills. Believe it or not, dinner with Lenny and the JOS was actually the very last thing in a weekend I will not soon forget. I also got to spend two full days immersed in the history and foundation of our sport. I got to geek out on gear through the ages and stand up as the “modern day” skydiver in my full get-up next to the likes of Dave DeWolf, Sandy Reid and Bill Booth. I got to sit and talk with Elizabeth Foster for a full hour, hearing stories of her early competition badassery and breaking barriers turning male-only clubs coed. I got to hug Jay Stokes, Ray Cottingham and Tony Uragallo congratulating them on their induction into the Hall of Fame and thanking them for all they have done for skydiving. I got to meet Coy MacDonald and thank him too. (If you don’t know who these people are, do some googling.) I got to support and connect with so many that came before us building the sport and community we are so lucky to call our sky family. I got to listen riveted to Col. Joe Kittinger, Art Thompson and Alan Eustace about their historic record-setting high-altitude jumps. I got to hug and share smiles with Lew Sanborn, Bill Morrisey, Tom Sanders, Norman Kent, BJ Worth, Marylou Laughlin, Alicia and Pat Moorehead, and so many others. I got to do 10-way with a wicked fun crew, yelling the count in Chris Wagner’s ear before exit and trading twinkly jump-run eyes every time with Dan BC. “Hit it hard,” Dan said. Almost flipping Celine over when I docked on that last jump, I felt I had done my job.
So that was a giant name-dropping paragraph.
I do not drop these names to sound cool. Name-dropping to sound cool is lame. I drop these names because they deserve it. These people and SO MANY others I haven’t named, have done SO MUCH for our sport, and so much for me personally as well.
Every time I think about that, I am filled with overwhelming gratitude for the opportunities, love and joy skydiving has given me.
I can barely wrap my brain around that, ya know?
I care to acknowledge, support and celebrate the pioneers of our sport. I am inspired to document and display these people and skydiving history in our future museum. Dang, that’s going to be cool when it gets built. That’s definitely my take.
This weekend, my brain and heart were blown up once again from the bigger story and deeper beauty of this thing we all love so much. This thing we get to do with some of the people we love the most in the biggest playground off this planet.
This weekend, I got to witness friendships spanning more than 50 years. I got to see so many of my own peers, all of us on our way to becoming 50-year friends too.