If all goes as planned, Dana Guest will strap on a water jetpack in downtown Tampa today and soar in the air across from the Convention Center.
Thus Dana checks off an item on her personal bucket list, a feat made possible in no small part by Jessie Stehlik, a Tampa photographer who teamed up with her husband, Paul, to co-found the commercial online startup ThisLife.Is.
That Web address is no typo. Rather, it is meant to convey that life is what you make it. The site combines the goal-setting elements of RunKeeper with the wish lists of Amazon and the crowd-source support element of Kickstarter. Users post their life goals — like writing a novel, Tebowing on the University of Florida football field or climbing Everest. Then, the personal goal page helps track progress and lets other users (or wealthy companies) donate their services.
A car wreck put Dana in a wheelchair at age 16. Now in her late 20s and living in Orlando, she remains undaunted, driving a tricked-out pickup truck and helicoptering into the Grand Canyon. Naturally, she became User No. 1 of ThisLife.Is.
Stehlik started the project last December with both happy and sad reasons. A death in her family and a slew of ensuing drama led her to a conclusion: "Life is short, and people may try to impose rules on your life," she said. "But that's ridiculous, and you should be able to decide how to live."
She's now addicted to the "endorphin rush" of photographing happy events and wants to build a business around happiness. Stehlik is already making progress. A jet-pack company, Blast Off Adventures of Orlando, heard of Dana's wish on ThisLife.Isand, weather permitting, will help boost Dana aloft about 1 p.m. today.
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