Ronnie Simpson has a heart of gold. He’s a thirty-one year old passionate outdoors man and he’s in his last year of completing his BA in Integrated Media at Hawaii Pacific University. Besides his impressive skills in sailing and surfing, there is a beaming glow that always seems to follow Ronnie wherever he choses to go. I have personally known Mr Simpson for a little under three years now, and even though I have experienced his natural charming self and his intriguing intelligence, I got the chance to learn about his past and it made me appreciate him even more (if that’s even possible).
After being born in Tennessee, Simpson spent most of his childhood in Florida with what he describes as a “strong father figure” who “kept the family together”. He had a normal upbringing but always loved the outdoors, a gateway to happiness for Ronnie as he would soon learn in his late teens.
Simpson told me about his past, serving the county as a Marine Corps Veteran in Iraq and how being in the military drastically changed the course of his life. While he was protecting his own, at only 19 years of age, his platoon was hit by a powerful grenade. His memories from the traumatizing event remain vivid, but the clarity comes back when he talks about the months of hard work and training he went through after the incident. Simpson was in a coma for 18 days, and thereby had to re-learn basic motor skills and speech when he finally awoke.
He suffered broken ribs, ear damage and permanent eye damage as a result of head trauma from the enormous explosion. Simpson was considered legally blind and fought to get back to where he is today; happy, healthy and healed.
Ronnie Simpson now resides on a sailboat and sometimes will stay on solid ground with his fiancée in her apartment in Honolulu. He loves sailing more than anything and wants to strive for a future where the very sport he lives, breathes, sweats becomes his career. Ronnie passionately described what he currently does for work on the side of full-time school and said he is the ‘sailing reporter and journalist’ for various sailing events. Basically he gets to sit on a crazy cool boat all day in the sun, maybe have a few beers (something Ronnie loves to do any time of day) and see the competition completely live. Solid side job, to say the least.
It is inspiring for me to meet and share time with people like Ronnie Simpson. There are few individuals that can recover as well as he has from such a horrific event as Simpson encountered. But Ronnie has such a bright inner core, filled with incredible strength and positivity that he is extremely difficult to take down. He is Ronnie Simpson. Truth be told, there are not many people I take a genuine liking to but Ronnie’s charismatic approach to life is so impressive that I just had to be friends with him the first time I heard him argue some discussion topic in class.
Simpson has a burning fire within him that I firmly believe is capable of absolutely anything. He has now basically sailed around the world many times, as he continues traveling through the Hawaiian Islands to Australia, New Zealand, California and the list goes on. But of course, he isn’t completely satisfied yet as he tells me his plans of “taking off and sailing around the world”. The way he speaks about his sail boat reminds me a little how I would speak about someone I truly and genuinely could not live without, like a best friend. It is quite fascinating to see and hear the enormous effort (don’t forget ENERGY, oh and maybe money…) that Ronnie puts into his sail boat is admirable.
So working with freelance contracts where he can follow his true passion for sailing, surfing but feeling free will be perfect for a waterman and fighter like Ronnie Simpson. He wants to he on the ‘frontline of photos journalism’ just like what he is doing right now, but Simpson aspires to secure larger corporate sponsorships that will support him when he reports on the biggest off-shore sailing events in sailing.
“Every big sailing regatta has corporate sponsorship and or media budget and with modern skills you can do revolutionary work for the fraction of the cost of other forms of publicity,” he states. Ronnie is looking straight towards the future of sailing. He feels like coverage for bigger events could become more accessible and consistent if there were more sponsored reporters live and up close during the competitions and events.
Ronnie accentuates every word as he slowly says, “[I will] never sit at a desk.” I guess world-roaming sailing journalist it is. Check back in, in a years time and perhaps Ronnie Simpson will have sailed around the world AND won the surfing world title. You never know with Ronnie. Only that he never seems to disappoint.
Keep shining Ronnie Simpson (favorably from inside a barrel or sailing around the world).