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ski-to-defeat-als

Ski to Defeat ALS 2014 was a huge success.

I will never forget when I found out Fred Noble had ALS: It was a powder day at Mt. Hood Meadows, and I came to the season locker room to change goggles and put away my camera. Fred’s locker was nearby, and he was sitting on the bench. Fred sitting on a powder day was not something I had seen before…so I asked him what was wrong. He told me he couldn’t feel his feet…and doctors had told him they thought it was ALS.

Well, I was struck with sadness, barely controlling tears. Having seen the normal run (3-5 years) of this horrible disease, if true I knew it was a death sentence. Fred, however, amazed me by showing the greatest attitude and spirit I had ever seen. He said he has lived an amazing life, claimed no regrets, and if that was fate, then he would take it on. I knew he would have to get involved with the ALS Association, and the annual Ski to Defeat ALS event at Mt. Hood Meadows is the result.

Here is a photo of Fred enjoying the first Ski to defeat ALS event, with help from Oregon Adaptive Sports volunteers:

I have been photographing fundraising events for the Oregon and SW Washington Chapter of the ALS Association for 7 years: Walks, Bike Rides, even Golf events, but Ski to Defeat ALS has quickly become the one closest to my heart. Fred Noble was one of my childhood ski heroes, and Fred’s amazing spirit and attitude since being diagnosed with ALS in 2010 is what led to Ski to Defeat ALS.

It is a wonderful event, a day of fun and community, when people with ALS get the chance to experience the freedom of skiing, thanks to Oregon Adaptive Athletics. For people confined to motorized wheelchairs the joy of skiing must be glorious! Check out this photo of Jack and Brian enjoying a ride with volunteers from Oregon Adaptive Sports.

The staffers from the ALS Association and volunteers (left to right Aubrey, Rebecca, Sandy, Linda, April, Lance and Christy) did a great job keeping everything organized and fun:

Fred was not able to ski in this year’s event, but he did have a good view of the mountain, as you can see here:

He also was honored with the first annual Noble Spirit Award by Aubrey McCauley, Rebecca Pace and Julia Mayfield:

Skiers and snowboarders traveled 2.5 million vertical feet and raised $150,000 to fight ALS. One of the participants was my son Graham, who raised $561 and skied 33,802 vertical feet. Here is a picture of Graham and me with Fred after the event. This was an emotional moment for me. You can see that we're both trying to hold it together.

The slideshow below has a mix of photos from the first Ski to Defeat ALS and images from this year’s event. The first three show Fred in 2012, when he was still able to go out on the sit-ski. I hope these photos inspire some of you to sign up for next year’s Ski to Defeat ALS!

Editor's Update, March 3, 2015: Fred Noble died not long after Randy Boverman completed this photo essay, on May 1, 2014.

The Ski to Defeat ALS event for 2015 is ON and scheduled for Saturday, April 11, 2015. Sign up here.

Randy Boverman is a Portland-based photographer who has been skiing Mount Hood his whole life.