Damien Rider was greeting fans on Sunday afternoon at the Bluff City Balloon Jamboree in Collierville, Tennessee. The Friday before, he jumped off a hot air balloon.
Rider, a native of Gold Coast, Australia, calls himself an athlete, author and humanitarian as part of his cause, Blue Knot Foundation in Australia and scholarships through the Bluff City Jamboree 501C3 to help children in need.
Friday was the first time the four-five year old jumped off the top of a hot air balloon. Only the second person in the world to do so.
Rider, an ultra-endurance athlete, said he showed no fear while meditating on top of the balloon before his jump Friday.
“I broke about three world records, I think on Friday,” said Rider. “We could only get up to 7,500 feet. We wanted to got 13,00 but the hot air balloon started to overheat, so I just had to go.”
Rider, who landed safely by using a parachute, said that only even a handful of hot air balloon pilots have been to such altitudes.
“Both the pilots hadn’t been up that high,” Rider laughed. “I think I was still a little bit more nervous than they were.”
While ascending to those heights, Rider said he meditated and enjoyed the view of sunrise.
“I go to watch the sunrise, before anyone else really,” Rider explained. “It was weird because as the sun was rising, I was rising at the same time. It stayed still, it was like watching a picture. It was quiet, except for the sound of the burner.”
Rider champions the Blue Knot Foundation as a survivor of complex trauma he repeatedly endured as a child and credits extreme sports for helping him turn his life around.
Other feats of endurance and daring Rider has undertaken include a 17-day, 500-mile solo paddle board trip in the Pacific Ocean encountering over 20 sharks in open water.
Rider currently holds twelve world records including a 2,500-mile skate across the entire U.S. Route 66.
Friday night at the inaugural balloon festival, a special kids night was hosted. Rider said he was thrilled to see a handicapped accessible balloon on site for children to enjoy the tethered rides.
“The jump was amazing, it was one of the most memorable things I’ve done,” said Rider. “You know it kind of didn’t compare to how it made me feel being at the festival Friday night.”
Rider said his fans should “stay tuned” as he is still aiming high to jump from 13,000 feet.