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Home / Arts / ‘Miracle on the Hudson’ survivor visits Toronto and shares his new book “The Limitless Life”

‘Miracle on the Hudson’ survivor visits Toronto and shares his new book “The Limitless Life”


TORONTO, March 8, 2024 – Imagine you are sitting on a plane, starting to relax just after takeoff, when suddenly you hear a loud, distressing noise. Minutes later the pilot comes on the intercom and says “This is your Captain. Brace for impact!”

This is what happened the fateful day on January 15th, 2009, when U.S. Airways Flight 1549 was hit by a flock of birds, knocking out both engines. Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger quickly realized that he likely couldn’t make it back to New York’s La Guardia Airport or another airport nearby, so he made the decision to land the plane in the Hudson River.

Miraculously, all 155 passengers and crew survived. The time from the bird strike to landing the Airbus A320 on the river was less than four minutes and the passengers and crew had just minutes to debark as the plane was filling with frigid water. Ferry boat drivers and EMS workers quickly came to rescue the passengers. The event became known as “The Miracle on the Hudson” and this past January was the 15th anniversary of this miraculous event of survival.

American author, Dave Sanderson visits Toronto, shares first-hand accounts of ‘Miracle on the Hudson’

North Carolina resident, Dave Sanderson was one of the passengers on the fateful flight, and one of the last off the plane. He said he decided to ‘do the right thing’ and help others get off the sinking plane. Surviving the ordeal was a life-changing event for Sanderson who says not only did the event happen for a reason, but it created purpose and meaning for him. Today Sanderson shares his story of facing adversity as an author and keynote speaker. Sanderson has written four books including his latest, The Limitless Life. Sanderson will be in Toronto from March 25th to 28th (venue to be revealed soon) promoting his new release.

As President of Dave Sanderson Speaks International LLC, Sanderson is a much sought-after motivational speaker who was named one of Inc.com’s Top 100 Leadership Speakers. He travels the globe sharing his story and has raised over $14.8 million USD for the American Red Cross over the past 15 years through his talks. Sidebar note: He formerly worked for author/speaker Tony Robbins and Sanderson credits Robbins with encouraging him to go out on his own to tell his story.

This past January, Sanderson hosted the 15th anniversary of The Miracle on the Hudson: “The anniversary was very emotional,” he says. “Many of the participants from that fateful day were there including some of the passengers, the EMS workers, firefighter units, public safety units, ferry boat workers, doctors from some of the hospitals, and American Red Cross who helped us that day. We all came together. It was a potential tragedy that turned into a miracle.”

Sanderson believes that many of the events in his life prepared him and helped guide his decisions on that fateful day. One of the lessons he learned was resiliency and now he helps others survive what he calls “their personal plane crash” moment and to create opportunity out of uncertainty. What Dave learned during the crash and afterwards has helped him live ‘a limitless life.’ In his new book The Limitless Life, Dave shares 15 lessons that will help take away the uncertainty you feel and turn it into opportunities so you can live the life you want. Each of the 15 strategies can be used on their own, yet add them all together, and you have a blueprint for conquering anything life throws at you. Dave’s mission is to teach others how to live a limitless life.

Q & A with plane crash survivor/author and guest speaker Dave Sanderson

The Limitless Life. Dave Sanderson will be in Toronto from March 25th to 28th promoting his new release.

Going back to that fateful day in January 2009, when did you realize that something was wrong?

“I was sitting in seat 15A on the left side of the plane, and I knew something was wrong when I heard the explosion. I was four rows behind the wing and saw fire coming out of the left wing. It wasn’t until the pilot started banking and I saw the Hudson (River) and the captain said, ‘Brace for impact.’ Then I knew it was serious.”

What was going through your head at that moment?

“The first thing I did was I prayed. I prayed for three things: for the captain to get me down safely; that the client I had just spoken to in Brooklyn would call my wife; and for God to forgive my sins. Then reached into my backpack, grabbed my wallet, and stuck it into my pants so I could be identified.”

What happened next?

“The plane was filling up with water to chest level in the back of the plane and in my mind, I heard my mother’s voice—she passed away in 1997—she was saying something she said to me as a child. I heard her say ‘if you do the right thing, God will take care of you.’ I heard that and went toward the back of the plane to help others.”

What were your first thoughts when you realized you and the others had survived?

“That’s a great question as there are points of survival. I wound up swimming to the ferry and thought I had made it. But when they took me to New Jersey and stripped off my clothes and someone asked me for my name and date of birth, and they tied an ID bracelet on my ankle. At that moment I thought, oh no, I didn’t make it. I thought of the movie Ghost where Patrick Swayze doesn’t realize he’s dead. You are dead but you are not dead, and you are watching everything play out. Maybe I didn’t make it. Then an EMS worker took my blood pressure. My levels were so poor, and my oxygen level was 75— I was in more trouble than I knew. The doctors told me later that everything below my heart was frozen and not functioning. It was touch and go for a while. It was five hours before I could urinate and then I knew I would be okay.”

In your one book you say that things happen for a reason, what was the reason for this miracle flight?

“Things happen for a reason. I was not supposed to be on that plane. I had a first-class ticket on the 5 p.m. flight that day but caught the earlier flight. This is my belief—everyone was on that flight for a reason and the reason was that something big was going to happen and these people knew how to deal with it. They needed the right people on that plane—somebody did, nature, God. We definitely had the right Captain!”

One of your books is called Moments Matter: How One Defining Moment Can Create a Lifetime of Purpose. How soon after the plane crash did your life start to change and how did it change?

“Firstly, I was being interviewed by every media outlet in the world. A week from that Sunday, someone asked me to speak to a small men’s group. About 500 people showed up and I started freaking out. What was I going to say? A lady came up to me and grabbed my arm and this is the moment everything changed. She said to me, ‘I don’t believe in God, and I didn’t know if I believed in miracles, but you are proof that there is a God and He does Miracles, thank you, thank you.’ That was the point in time that I realized; I have a mission.”

How were you able to find the courage to fly again? (Something Dave did a week after the plane crash)

“This is the question I am asked the most. The answer is I found the resiliency to bounce back and to face my fears. I had a client who needed me, so I got on that plane and went to meet him. Uncertainty is everywhere. How do you face your fears? How do you bounce back? I faced my fears and went back to the Hudson and swam with the Navy Seals. It is about changing your mind set. There are no limits!”

” I faced my fears and went back to the Hudson and swam with the Navy Seals. It is about changing your mind set. There are no limits!” Dave Sanderson

What was the inspiration from your new book and what do you hope people take away from it?

“The whole premise of the book is this; life is nothing but uncertainties and we all have uncertainties. There is a way to create a pathway and to serve at a higher level. The book is based on my experiences, and about gratitude and giving back, such as my work to raise money for The Red Cross. The more gratitude you have the more grace that you receive, and it creates opportunities for you to serve.”

There are 15 lessons you share in your latest book as a blueprint on how to overcome adversity and lead a ‘Limitless Life’. Which lesson do you feel is the most important and why?

“One of my favourites is Learn How to Edit. You need to edit things in your life. Edit your health to become healthier, edit your finances, edit the people around you—edit your relationships. I tell my kids, if you only get one thing out of reading this, just learn to edit.

Another important thing in the book I call the three C’s. People are looking to leaders to have three things: confidence, competence, and creativity. They want you to instil confidence; they want to know that you can do the things you say you can do, and they are looking to you to give them creative solutions. If you can do those three things you will be successful.”

The Limitless Life is available through Amazon. For more information on Dave Sanderson, visit davesandersonspeaks.com

by Laurie Wallace-Lynch

Other articles from totimes.ca – otttimes.ca – mtltimes.ca

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