Successfully "catching" a two and a half somersault, conducting triple aerial high casting, flying trapeze routines and even participating in the circus's first teeterboard team—Florida State University alumni Chuck ('69) and Donna (Meyers) Ross ('70) recall many exhilarating memories from their years performing with the FSU Flying High Circus.
"It's difficult to pick out a favorite, but the most distinctive memory was our final 'style' to the audience after completing a perfect show or catching all of our tricks at our last Home Show Performance Series," the Rosses shared. "It marked the culmination of so much hard work."
Meeting under the Big Top, the couple performed several acts together as members of the FSU Circus from 1966-1969. They married shortly after graduation and, in the couple's own words, "have been 'flying high' together on life for nearly 52 years." Their children, Chas and Jennifer, also followed in their parents' footsteps and became FSU Circus members themselves.
"The circus has been such a large part of our lives," they expressed. "It taught us we could achieve things we never thought possible and pushed us beyond our normal limits. We learned to rely on and trust others, and this is the essence of teamwork, upon which we built many enduring relationships. Our best friends today are still the people we performed with over 50 years ago."
When the Rosses saw the vision behind the upcoming FSU Flying High Circus Expansion Project, they knew it would be a meaningful opportunity for them to give back to the program. Together, the couple committed $30,000 through a charitable bequest in support of the initiative. Scheduled to commence in 2022, the project will be comprised of both renovation and new construction, including a new ticket box office, a two-story rehearsal space, updated amenities for students and patrons, needed storage upgrades and much more.
"We want to see the FSU Circus continue to grow and excel at developing not only excellent athletes and lasting relationships but also good citizens who cherish the values of lofty goals, hard work, perseverance, teamwork and trust. The expansion project will help ensure that happens," they shared.
"The tradition of the FSU Flying High Circus is one we hope to preserve for countless generations of Seminoles and guests to experience," FSU Vice President for Student Affairs Dr. Amy Hecht shared. "Through their support, the Rosses continue a legacy at Florida State dedicated to delivering captivating performances, and we're thankful to have their confidence behind this project."
The Rosses hope their gift encourages others to support the expansion project as the 75th anniversary approaches next year.
"FSU receives part of its identity and prominence from over seven decades of performances, but unlike major athletic programs, the circus generates most of its revenue through ticket sales and private donations," they explained. "We can never repay what the FSU Circus has given us, but our gift is a modest attempt to give back for all of our 'Ross family fun,' and to say, 'Thanks for teaching us how to share our goals, trust our partners, stretch our limits, reach new heights, make lasting friendships and always pursue excellence.'"
Learn more about supporting the FSU Flying High Circus.