Vallie Collins is in the Chat Room

Vallie Collins

Vallie Collins

Age: 39

Family: Married to Steve Collins. They have three children, Addison, 11; Luke, 8; and Cade, 6

Occupation: Senior Account Manager for Tapemark Company, a contract manufacturer of medical devices, pharmaceutical products and consumer products based in St. Paul, Minn.

We all have them: Events that in some way change our lives. Some come in quietly as marriage vows, excitedly with the birth of a child, sadly with the loss of a loved one or perhaps fearfully with the loss of a job or change in careers.

For Vallie Collins, the event that became what she calls a “mile marker” came with a dramatic splash in the middle of the Hudson River as the world watched through the national media.

Vallie was one of 155 passengers on US Airways Flight 1549 on Jan. 15, 2009. The plane was ditched successfully by its captain, Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, in the Hudson River after being disabled by a flock of Canada geese as it took off from New York City to Charlotte, N.C.

Vallie, who was born in Memphis and grew up in Columbia, Tenn., was on her way home to Maryville from a business trip.

“There is no question it was a mile marker in my life,” says Vallie. “You don’t go through an experience like that and come out of it unchanged. I have a deeper appreciation for life. I take time to live a little every day and am determined not to get so caught up in the hustle and bustle.”

In addition to philosophical changes, Vallie took action. “I changed my job to part-time work. I still travel, but not as much. I know now that every day is a lucky day. Even if the day doesn’t turn out the way you wanted it to, it’s a lucky day.”

Those lists of things you “intend” to do get a second look after you have a day where you know it could be your last. “Tennis, for example, was one of those things I love and always wanted to take the time to play. One month after the crash, I started playing tennis. We are not guaranteed tomorrow. The gift of perspective is a very powerful thing.”

Vallie also now does motivational and public speaking on her experience and how it affected her life. She is also still involved in area community groups, serving as board chair for Secret Safe Place for Newborns of Tennessee, is on the board of Primary Players Theatre Group, a past board member of the Maryville City Schools Foundation, active at Fort Craig School and First Baptist Church of Maryville and is a member of this year’s Leadership Blount class.

Husband Steve is a vice president of sales for Derma med Coating, which is based in Akron, Ohio. Steve and Vallie both work out of their home.

Here is Vallie Collins:

What is your favorite quote from television or a movie?

“You can think about it, but don’t do it!” - Jackie Gleason in “Smoky and the Bandit.”

What are you guilty of?

Trying to cram too much into one day. I have a hard time saying ‘no.’ I need to keep more ‘margins’ in my life.”

What is your favorite material possession?

My 370Z convertible that my husband surprised me with last Christmas!”

What are you reading currently?

“Room,” by Emma Donoghue

What was your most embarrassing moment?

“My parents have horses and when I was about 17 years old, one of our horses was ill, so my dad had to give the horse a shot every day with a hypodermic needle that was about 8 inches long. Well, I had a first date with a guy, and, as we were leaving for our date, my dad was coming back from the barn with the hypodermic needle in his hand. I stop and introduce my dad to my date, at which point my dad says, ‘I inoculate all of Vallie’s date so where do you want your shot, son?’ I could have just died!”

What are the top three things on your bucket list?

“Learn a foreign language; visit all 50 of the United States (I have 8 to go) as well as New Zealand; and learn to repel/rock climb.”

What is one word others often use to describe you and why?

“Positive. Some of my closest friends call me Sunshine.”

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

“Too be less competitive.”

What is your passion?

“My husband and three children.”

With whom, living or dead, would you most like to have a long lunch?

“Captain Chesley Sullenberger -- he saved my life.”

If you could go back in time for a week, what time period or year would you visit?

“Early 1940s. I would love to see my grandfathers as young men serving our country in WWII.”

What is the best present you ever received in a box?

“My engagement ring.”

What is the best advice your mother ever gave you?

“Learn to work with the public because if you can work with the public, you can work with anybody. (My parents have owned a Baskin-Robbins for over 30 years so they know about working with the public.)”

Other than your parents, who has had the biggest influence on your life and why?

“Jesus Christ. Having faith in God has helped me through may difficult times.”

Do you Myspace, Facebook or Twitter?

“Facebook, although I’m not a frequent user.”

What’s the worst job you have ever had?

“In college, I worked for a computer software development company, and my job was to use the new versions and try to find the glitches.”

What was your favorite Saturday morning cartoon and why?

“Scooby Doo. I love a good mystery.”

What irritates you?

“Negative or pessimistic people.”

What’s one place in Blount County everyone should visit?

“Cade’s Cove. We actually named our youngest son Cade.”

If you could go back in time, what advice would you give yourself at 18?

“Enjoy the phase of life which you are in, because the next phase will be here before you know it. ”

What is your greatest fear?

“Something tragic happening to one of my children.”

I still can’t quite get the hang of…

“Sewing. I can’t even sew a button on!”

If you could do one impulsive thing, what would it be?

“Take my family on a year long trip around the world.”

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