Throughout Clare County, stuntman Rick Shaw has been visiting with middle and high school students to help them develop a deeper understanding of the variables around career choice.
I visited Clare High School on January 23 to observe his assembly for students in 8th-12th grades. There definitely was some exciting action but he also worked hard to deliver a message about safety, staying in school, and learning everything offered there to have all the available knowledge and skills for success.
Rick Shaw spent 10 years in Hollywood as a stuntman and now works as a stunt coordinator. In 1989, he set a world record for the highest temperature endured by a human! But safety is a huge message and he imparted how his knowledge of math and science is significant to ensure his safety. He threw out vocabulary such as compression factors, ratios, formulas and percentages, terminal velocity, and g-force to make his point. He has participated in over 500 stunt burns. His knowledge of chemicals has been crucial to the safety and success of those burns.
Rick began his career at age 19 when his love and experience with motocross lead him to his first job . . . jumping a motorcycle over 5 cars in a promotion for a local Toyota dealership. That job lead to another jump job then one for Pepsi, jumping a motorcycle between two buildings, which really launched a career. That career helped finance his college education and he possesses a mechanical engineering degree. What he learned while he earned that degree has boosted his success as a stuntman and coordinator.
The stunts were great attention grabbers so Rick could deliver his message that, “Your career starts now! Take the time to learn as much as you can about math.” He also wanted them to know that someone who desires to work in the movies can bring almost any skill. Business people, construction crews, fashion and cosmetology, are just a few of a jobs hired on movie sets. “Learn to manage your money,” he encouraged as well.
And again to emphasize safety, Rick prepared a volunteer for a stunt. The student was excited and ready for anything. But Rick made sure everyone understood the difference between a daredevil and a stuntman. “A daredevil has no idea if he will make it. A stuntman has done the work before,
has knowledge and experience in the field, and knows he will make it.”
Rick lives in Gladwin now but he loves going out to share with students what he has learned. He wants to see all young people work hard, find their passion but be smart about choosing how to live that passion out in their lives.