America's CU Conference
Dan Rooney

Major Dan Rooney: Take Life’s Chances With a Purpose

‘If you’re comfortable, you’re not reaching your potential.’

June 18, 2012

A key concept in life is synchronicity--or taking life’s chances with a of sense of purpose, fighter pilot Major Dan Rooney told the opening session of the 2012 America’s Credit Union Conference Sunday evening in San Diego. The conference runs through Wednesday.

Rooney is an F-16 pilot who flew three combat tours in Iraq, a professional golfer, an author, and a philanthropist who helps families of disabled and deceased war veterans.

He founded the Folds of Honor Foundation in 2007 that, through scholarships and other financial assistance, gives back to the spouses and children of soldiers killed or seriously wounded in service to our country.

“Synchronicity is all around us--signs on the highway of life,” Rooney explained. “It’s the divine current of life leading us to our essence. It’s the courage to take action when that inspiration comes into your path.”

His dad told Rooney two things when he was young. Find your passion in life. And once you find it and develop it, you can accomplish anything.

Consequently, when Rooney was 12 years old, he told his dad he wanted to be a golf pro and a fighter pilot.

When he was a college student at Kansas University, a professor wrote the word “volition” on a classroom chalkboard and asked rowdy students if they knew what the word meant.

When no one answered, he told them: “Volition will define your life; it is the power to choose. It is the path to build things up or tear them down. In the end, no one but you controls your choices. Volition defines your life.”

When people push themselves, they become that change in their lives, Rooney said. “If you are comfortable, you’re not reaching your potential,” he added. “Flexibility is the key to life.”

That flexibility led to a calling he had when flying his second-to-last mission in Iraq and after seeing one person fly his dead brother’s remains back home to the U.S.

Years of seeing people going home from combat who are physically and mentally disabled gave Rooney inspiration. “But inspiration means nothing in life unless you do something about it,” he added.

So Rooney had a moment of synchronicity, realizing what he was supposed to do--and founded a Patriot Golf Day that started out small, but then was launched nationally in August 2007, prompting 3,300 golf courses nationwide to sign up.

That year, $1.1 million was raised to help military families. Since then, $13 million has been raised. That year, Rooney founded Folds of Honor Foundation.

“We all have a calling,” Rooney concluded. “When you walk out of here, experience that power of volition in your life. At the end, what did you do with your talents to make the world a better place?”