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← You have one life. Live it | Sherry McConkey | TEDxUniversityofNevada

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Showing Revision 13 created 09/11/2019 by Peter van de Ven.

  1. Hi.
  2. My role was that he called me
    after every jump.
  3. I'd spoken to him the day before,
  4. and he was so excited
    about the way his trip was going.
  5. The next day when the phone rang,
    it was J.T. calling.
  6. He said two words:
  7. "Shane's dead."
  8. I went silent, I screamed,
    I hung up the phone.
  9. I had no idea what to do,
  10. my brain was screaming,
    I couldn't breathe,
  11. and my daughter was staring at me,
    scared and confused.
  12. I left South Africa when I was 21
    to go travel the world
  13. and find my Persian birth father.
  14. I never met him,
    and it's really pissed me off.
  15. (Laughter)
  16. But now that I look back,
  17. it's thanks to him that I met
    the love of my life and my soulmate.
  18. Shane McConkey
  19. was named one of the most
    influential skiers in the world.
  20. He completely disrupted the ski industry
    by changing everything
  21. from the shape of skis
    to the way we ski in powder.
  22. Shane won extreme ski competitions;
    he was a ski movie star.
  23. And he did insane skiing feats
  24. like combining skiing
    with BASE jumping and wingsuiting.
  25. People loved Shane.
  26. They loved him because he was real.
  27. He made them laugh with his wacky
    sense of humor and practical jokes,
  28. and he invited them into his world
    and made them feel special.
  29. He loved oddballs and outcasts,
    and he shattered the idea of cool cliques.
  30. When he had an idea, he made it happen.
  31. Like going to K2 and asking them
  32. to spend millions of dollars
    and change their skis.
  33. They looked at him sideways,
  34. but through dedication and determination
    he blew the roof off the ski industry
  35. both as an athlete and an innovator.
  36. He was kind and he had empathy.
  37. When "Make a Wish" approached him
    to grant a kid's wish
  38. he was honored and went above and beyond
  39. to make this kid
    have the time of his life.
  40. He loved animals and our world
  41. and was not afraid to preach
    in what he believed in.
  42. He was a horrible cook
    and a terrible cleaner -
  43. (Laughter)
  44. but when he did do this,
    it was awesome and entertaining.
  45. We married in 2004,
  46. and in 2005 he gave me the best gift ever:
  47. our daughter Ayla.
  48. We went through the world
    with a wow and delight
  49. and his infectious personality
    poured into Ayla.
  50. He was smitten
    and he was an amazing father.
  51. On March 26, 2009,
  52. in the Dolomite Alps of Italy,
  53. Shane and one of his
    best friends, J.T. Holmes,
  54. performing a wingsuit ski BASE jump -
  55. this is where you ski off a huge cliff,
    release your skis
  56. and fly away and then eventually land.
  57. Shane skied off this cliff,
    did two huge backflips,
  58. reached down to pull off his skis,
    but only one came off.
  59. You have to get both skis off
    in order to pull your chute;
  60. otherwise, they could get tangled
    in your parachute lines.
  61. By the time Shane got his skis off,
  62. turned around to pull his chute,
  63. it was too late.
  64. My life changed forever.
  65. There's no way
    to explain that kind of pain,
  66. it's a constant circle of emotions:
  67. fear, guilt, loss, anger,
  68. and those words don't do justice.
  69. It's like somebody's squeezing your throat
    and stepping on your chest;
  70. you can't breathe.
  71. In the last few years in Tahoe,
    our community's seen a lot of death.
  72. Not all of it has been BASE
    or parachute related,
  73. but a lot of it has.
  74. Soon after I was asked to do this talk,
    one of those deaths hit close to home.
  75. This particular death was
    a result of a sky diving accident
  76. of yet another amazing friend.
  77. I'm not an angry person,
    but for the first time in my life
  78. I was overcome with anger,
    real raw gut-wringing anger.
  79. I felt the pain of a grieving wife
  80. and the kids that
    wouldn't know their father.
  81. And I saw herself in me, and it killed me.
  82. I was re-living Shane's passing,
    and I was emotionally exhausted
  83. by so many of our friends
    dying way too young.
  84. All I wanted to do is run.
  85. I wanted to leave Tahoe,
    I wanted to go find a normal life,
  86. I wanted to escape
    the trauma and the pain.
  87. I've always coped with pain
    by riding my bike.
  88. In fact, I actually call my bike
    "my boyfriend," and his name's Bronson.
  89. (Laughter)
  90. Riding opens my mind;
  91. it makes me a better mother,
    and it lets me cry without being judged.
  92. So, on that particular day
    I cried, I screamed,
  93. and then I had an epiphany.
  94. I thought to myself, "What am I thinking?
    I have no right being angry.
  95. I get to live on this beautiful world,
  96. I have an incredible community
    of people that I love,
  97. and I have a daughter
    who's expecting me to be strong."
  98. I also reminded myself
    that I chose this lifestyle.
  99. After all, I married a guy
    who does unusual things for a living,
  100. not a guy who works at Microsoft -
    no offence, Microsoft guys.
  101. (Laughter)
  102. And this life is my normal.
  103. Through my epiphany, I also came
    to realize how much I learned from Shane
  104. and made the decision to try my hardest
  105. at things that I love
    and that I have passion for.
  106. There were times when I was so frustrated;
    it was so hard for me.
  107. Growing up, I always thought
    of myself as the dumb kid.
  108. My siblings had an easy time
    at school, and I struggled.
  109. I never went to college,
  110. and I've carried out
    this insecurity throughout life.
  111. School didn't agree with Shane either,
    but he didn't care.
  112. He knew what he wanted to do,
    and he was going to do it no matter what.
  113. Shane taught me, if I had
    the courage to be authentic,
  114. hold myself into things that I love,
  115. anything is possible.
  116. After Shane's death, I came to realize
  117. that the people who admired Shane
    were grieving for him too.
  118. So I got together with a group
    of wonderful friends,
  119. and we started the
    Shane McConkey Foundation.
  120. Over the last six years,
    we've donated over 250.000 dollars
  121. to causes that both
    Shane and I care about.
  122. We also started the
    Shane McConkey Eco-Challenge,
  123. a competition for kids,
    for schools nationwide,
  124. to learn about and implement
    environmental change.
  125. The response has been amazing.
  126. And it's been an incredible process
    of healing, self-discovery,
  127. and figuring out that my passion
    is to make a difference in the world.
  128. I was also part of making
    a documentary about my husband.
  129. Although this movie has been
    one of the hardest things I've ever done,
  130. this movie has won awards,
    it's made people laugh and cry,
  131. and it's inspired thousands of people
    all over the world;
  132. and I've received
    hundreds of amazing e-mails
  133. about how Shane has influenced
    somebody's life in a positive way.
  134. And I cannot explain
    how amazing that feels.
  135. It is through Shane that I learned
    the most about myself.
  136. And it's through his death
    that I learned how to endure heartache,
  137. overcome obstacles,
    and become a bigger version of me.
  138. I persevere through his death,
  139. and although I can't
    and never will be able to explain
  140. loosing the love of my life,
  141. I can say
  142. that through incredible tragedy,
    I discovered a new me
  143. and my story is far from over.
  144. Being happy is not dependent
    on my circumstance.
  145. Pursuing passion and living life,
  146. really living life,
  147. is the greatest choice
    I can make every day.
  148. Thank you.
  149. (Applause)