By Maria G. O'Donnell
With all he'd been given on "Survivor," this Simsbury resident has decided to give back to the community through promoting charities and coaching kids. On Sept. 14 at Reno's Gathering Place, Deitz and his wife Trish, and children Danny and Kayla, rounded up friends and family for a special fundraising event for Fisher House. This non-profit organization provides temporary residences on military hospital sites for families whose loved ones have been injured during military service. The event coincided with the kick-off of the new season of "Survivor: Cook Islands," and the show played at Reno's that night.
Currently an American Airlines pilot, Deitz is a former Navy F-14 Tomcat pilot who, according to his wife, "has an allegiance to the military." That is why he focused on Fisher House as the charity to support. Trish said, "We heard that Denzell Washington visited a facility in Maryland and was so impressed with what it did for families." When Washington asked how much it cost to build one of the houses, and was told $650,000, he wrote a check in that amount on the spot.
As for her husband, Trish said, "He's chosen (Fisher House) as the charity he feels passionate about. Having the (fundraiser) at Reno's was a fun way to have it coincide with 'Survivor'."
Deitz had heard of Fisher House before, but Washington's contribution refreshed his memory about the organization, "and I figured I'd try to make that one of my charities." When Deitz sold the "Survivor" hidden immunity idol from Exile Island, he donated a portion of the proceeds to Fisher House.
In addition to promoting Fisher House, Deitz also recently participated in a benefit at Quassy Amusement Park in Middlebury. In that region of Connecticut, a "Fun for All" park will be built in the likes of "Jonathan's Dream," a fully handicapped accessible playground in West Hartford. Deitz also supports CARC, the Connecticut AIDS Resources Center, and will become chairman of the Fidelco Guide Dog Foundation, stepping in after Gov. M Jodi Rell.
Outside of the charitable work, Deitz will be featured in a History Channel program that will detail the retirement of the F-14 Tomcat. On Sept. 14, he had just gotten home from Norfolk, Va., where he was in Navy training to prepare for a backseat flight in a Tomcat the next week. This footage will be included in the program. "I can't wait," Deitz said enthusiastically, recalling that training was just like it was when he was in active duty in 1984. He'll be present at Tomcat Sunset in Oceana, Va., to conclude the program.
Between his "Survivor" experience and his athletic and military background, Deitz is interested in taking on motivational speaking, according to his wife, who feels he has a lot to offer. The energetic Deitz is an articulate, animated presenter, which he displayed at Reno's while detailing Cook Islands' new cast of characters to his friends.
Finally, MLB.com (Major League Baseball) Internet Productions has asked Deitz to be part of a pilot trailer being shot in the fall. Baseball itself brings this involved dad back home. He coached his daughter's baseball team for five years and has now started coaching his son's football team.
Deitz admitted, "I miss the camaraderie of the Navy squad during active duty, but that's been replaced by coaching kids and helping in the community. It's a nice transition, and it's what I'd always wanted to do, to follow in like my father and coach kids like he did."
"Holidays, birthdays & anniversaries have been celebrated with tears and smiles with people who truly understand what the other person is experiencing."
- Kamryn Jaroszewski