It took 14 years and four days for airshow pilot Danny Sorensen to build an airplane from scratch.
Beginning Feb. 3, Sorensen and his family’s story can be seen in a new 20-minute vignette at the Legacy Theatre on Temple Square as well as in visitors’ centers for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints around the country. Screening events for media and the public were held this week.
Sorensen, 66, from Bountiful, Utah, never expected to be on the big screen. His wife, Allyn, said she feels like they are just normal people living their ordinary, everyday lives. But Danny’s “genuine humility” and this family’s story was enough to catch the attention of "Meet the Mormons" director Blair Treu.
“I just like the metaphor of him crafting an airplane and what he learned in the process,” Treu said. “A life crafted because he follows the teachings of the Savior. The story illustrates that.”
Life was busy for the young Sorensen family as Danny worked as a fireman and served as a bishop. He loved working on airplanes and flying but soon realized it was taking him away from spending time with his family.
Not long after, the Sorensen’s youngest daughter, Jennifer, then age 4, was diagnosed with cancer. The family faced challenges as she underwent radiation, chemotherapy and surgery to remove a tumor at the base of her brain.
Though she has cognitive disabilities and still lives at home with her parents, Jennifer’s positivity and fun-loving personality continue to uplift people wherever she goes.
“I may be short, but I can do tall things,” Jennifer Sorensen, now 32, says in the story.
“I cry every time it comes on,” Danny Sorensen said after the screening on Thursday night. “It just overwhelms me that she affects people the way she does.”
After Jennifer’s recovery, Danny began his 14-year effort to build the airplane he named “Unfinished Business.”
“Life is just ‘unfinished business,’” Danny said of the endless list of chores, yard work, cleaning, and other responsibilities families have. He's grateful he learned early on that "people are more important than things."
Treu said there are a lot of elements to the Sorensen’s story with which people can identify. He hopes this story, like the others in the "Meet the Mormons" series, helps people understand members of the church in a broad sense and “what makes us tick.”
“I think it’s awesome,” Jennifer said about her family's story on the big screen. “Like I told Blair (Treu) one time, my life is difficult. Everyone’s life is difficult. Even though what I went through was hard, there’s always someone out there with an even harder life.”
“The Horseman,” another standalone "Meet the Mormons" story that premiered last summer, was also shown at the screening this week. Jeff and Emily Wadman, whose story centers on the importance of the family, came down from Morgan, Utah, to be a part of the dual showing.
“I hear something different every time I watch it,” Jeff Wadman said. “The guy on the screen seems different to me than the one that I am. It’s really weird because it seems like the Lord is trying to tell me something else out of every aspect of it. We’re fortunate to get to relive this again.”1 comment on this story
When asked what they hope people get out of their story, Jeff said, “We don’t dare answer that question. We want people to come here and we want the Lord to speak to them in whatever way possible. I do not want to restrict the Lord and what he might say.”
The future of "Meet the Mormons" includes one last story coming from St. Petersburg, Russia. Though things can always change, this final story “will officially sunset the whole series” as Treu is no longer pursuing other stories, he said. The release date hasn’t been set, but he expects it to come out later this year.