As a kid growing up in Northwest Montana, I fell in love with the outdoors. Nearly every weekend, my family would go backpacking, skiing, hiking, hunting or kayaking. And while I loved all of these adventures, kayaking resonated with me the most.
Then, at the age of 13, my parents told me I could do whatever I wanted with my life, that I was now an adult and could make my own decisions. For me, the decision was easy; I wanted to become a professional whitewater kayaker.
Within 5 years I was traveling the world, in search of first descents on remote rivers and filming with the largest production companies in the outdoor industry. I was sponsored by Nike and living my dream. However, I wasn’t completely fulfilled. I felt as though I needed to share my gift, and the amazing experience of kayaking with others who needed it more. The decision of “who” to share it with was an easy one for me. My Aunt had been diagnosed with cancer when I was in my teens and seeing firsthand just how devastating it could be inspired me to want to help her and others like her going through similar challenges.
Thus, in 2001 I founded First Descents, an organization that provides outdoor adventures to young adults whose lives have been impacted by cancer. We started with a one week kayak adventure on the Colorado river with 15 survivors and fighters and have since served thousands of young adults with cancer through a multitude of outdoor adventures around the world all free of charge.
Nowadays, I find myself getting back to my Montana roots. I recently purchased a home in Whitefish, MT and most days I'm outside fly fishing, floating rivers, backcountry skiing, hunting, flying, surfing (no, not Montana, but still fun!) and spending time with my family. I work for First Descents, supporting it in every way that I can, and couldn’t be more grateful for the role it has played in my life.