Diana De Rosa emerged from the porta-jon fully dressed in full riding regalia. Like a scene from Superman, she entered the makeshift dressing room as a sharp-eyed journalist only to reappear moments later ready to take on the competition waiting her arrival in the competition ring. In one of the five rings on the 60 acres converted annually into The Hampton Classic Horse Show, Diana would compete on horseback then leave the field to work on PR, take pictures, write stories and even do daily TV reporting. If there ever was a super reporter, she was it.
Diana's love for horses stretched far back into her youth. In high school, her dad told her that if she made 100 on her algebra and geometry test, he would buy her a horse. She got her horse, a chestnut gelding named Flame.
In Elementary School, Diana told her teacher that she wanted to be a language major and travel the world. She couldn't foresee that her love of horses would someday take her to destinations beyond her wildest imagination or that countries would be calling her to come visit instead of the other way around.
Arriving home after her senior year in college, spent abroad in Italy, Diana learned that her father, a contractor, and her mom wanted to lease a riding school being sold by previous owners. Asking her to run it, she suddenly was thrown head on into the world of horses. She learned how to teach, manage classes, and improve her own competitive riding.
One day a man stopped by the barn. He ran a local publication and wanted a column written on horses. Diana agreed. The more she wrote, the more she enjoyed writing, researching and finding interesting information on the equestrian world. She approached the publishers about starting a magazine entirely devoted to horses. Agreeable, they approved the project and she became the editor of the new equine magazine, Horse World USA, for the next thirteen years. The work led her into the fascinating world of photography and horse sports.
She found herself going to the Olympics, World Equestrian Games and more. Eventually, she started helping with PR for various events. She worked with NBC to put on a mini horse show in Central Park as a preview to the National Horse Show which for many years took place annually at Madison Square Garden.
Over and above her skilled organizational style, she was known for her thought provoking questions and keen eye for photographic moments.
"What was the first thing that crossed your mind when you won?” Diana would ask the Olympic equestrians or “Tell me about what your horse is like back at the barn.” Each would answer unique and individual responses about the quirks of his or her animal or perhaps a personal reflection about family watching the event.
The next couple of years, Diana built a name for herself through diligence, hardwork and a deep passion for the equine world. Through it all, she would call or email her mom and share the exciting steps of her journey.
"Mom, my stories are online today. . . . Mom, I was ringside in Poland today. . . .in Spain. . . . in Malaysia. . . .in Australia. . . . in Germany,” shared Diana, excited to call or email home and share the latest international anecdote from wherever she stayed . Her mom would soak up the travels of her adventurous daughter and share them with her golfing buddies. The women followed her stories on the internet.
After each trip, Diana returned home to the apartment above the barn, where only miles from New York City she could look out the window to welcoming green leaves and brown stick trees and appreciate the calm after the whirlwind of an event or trip overseas.
In 1996 while Diana was doing the PR for the National Horse Show, the responsibility fell on Diana to make sure the celebrity horseman, Christopher Reeve, the real Superman, was comfortable and that all his needs were met. By now a quadriplegic, Chris still enjoyed horses despite the fall from one that took away his entire mobility. With a spirit as strong as the horses in the competition, Reeve loved the event and met Diana in the process as travel arrangements were finalized.
A year later and a series of unexpected events led Diana to ultimately become a member of his staff and take on the role of Road Manager. Her job involved handling all of his travels nationally and internationally as he gave speeches, accepted awards, directed movies and raised awareness about stem cell research. She would assist him for the next eight years until illness overtook him and he passed away in 2004. Chris wasn't just an employer but a dear friend and his death would affect Diana profoundly. She would continue to work with other connections made through the friendship.
Requested by none other than the movie studio Dreamworks, Diana continued to promote horse related events and do the PR on their movie “Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron.” Again, Diana became known for her hard work and creative eye. Afterward, she was asked to promote their next horse-focused movie, “Dreamer: Inspired by a True Story.”
A surprise call came in one day from Fox Pictures. “Can you help us find the woman responsible for promoting the movie Dreamer?” They were asking the right person and so Diana was again put to work promoting the next horse film, Flicka. She loved every minute.
Again, death claimed a beloved friend as Diana's mother and confidant would battle breast cancer and succumb after three years of fighting the invasive disease. Between writing and photography assignments, Diana was the daughter of the six children who took her mom to appointments and helped her through the tough moments as her health waned. Always learning, Diana would discover holistic medicines and create healthy shakes for her family to hopefully prevent further illness.
Today, an engraved, gold plate is displayed in Diana's apartment, the small home her parents helped her build above a barn on their property, bought years ago by one sister than bought again by another sister. The plate reminds Diana of a competition in Sweden. Through her own competitive riding, she won the gift donated to the event by a past Olympic rider. It sits proudly in her home reminding her of the interesting path she has ridden through life. With writer's block never an issue, Diana continues to look for new stories to tell, new experiences to fold into her repertoire and new horses to catch on film as they soar over the final jump.
Diana De Rosa is the owner of her own PR firm, Press Link of America and has followed the horse trail to over 30 countries, writing and taking pictures.
To learn more about Diana's photography, PR and writing services, go to http://www.presslinkpr.com/
Thank you Diana, for sharing your Story with us.
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© 2009 by Sarah Peppel and Story of My Life®