Mushing for Bethany
The Bethany Adams Memorial Fund benefits the Camp Chief Ouray scholarship fund
Written by Steve Peterson, Snow Mountain Ranch Chaplain
In the Peterson family, dogs have always been a family affair. All of our kids love dogs and they each have their own dogs today.
I began running sled dogs in 1998.
Prior to 1998, I would guide backpacking trips in the Rocky Mountains and canoe trips in the Boundary Waters Canoe Wilderness area along with my beloved four-legged companion. When that dog passed away, I knew I needed another dog to accompany me on my wilderness adventures. I wasn’t sure what kind of dog I wanted next, so I studied different breeds and became interested in Nordic breeds. My wife, who grew up in Alaska, had been encouraging me to get sled dogs, and after doing my research, I soon had my first sled dog. This had me starting to dream of winter camping trips with a dog pulling a sled and me skiing behind it.
One dog quickly turned to three. Then I found an old sled in a corn crib that I purchased for $35. My mushing career was born and my dream was about to come true.
At first I only ran for fun, but I eventually tried a competition and I was hooked right away. While living in Minnesota, I did winter camping trips and ran races 30 to 150 miles long.
Then heartbreak occurred when I first moved to Colorado and couldn’t find a place to live that could accommodate my dogs. I ended up having to sell my dogs and most of my equipment. Little did I know that three years later I would get to live my dream again. This time though, racing would not be the focus. As chaplain at YMCA of the Rockies-Snow Mountain Ranch, I began to turn a passion for dogs and racing into providing rides and faith-based presentations for guests. I cherished the opportunity to inspire wonder for creation, and delight guests with the dogs’ antics and stories.
Over the years, dog sled racing had also become a family affair. Our kids loved to come to the races and cheer me on. But I think our oldest daughter, Bethany, was my biggest fan. She loved to come and hang out with her sisters and her mom during the races.
A little over a year ago, Bethany passed away after a courageous battle with cancer. I have never seen a person with more courage and grace. My heart hurts every day that she is gone. Bethany was 39 years old and left behind her loving husband, Jeff and three amazing children, Connor, Noah and Olivia. She loved being a mom and was amazing at it.
During her illness, Bethany started a blog called “Bethany’s Bright Sides” that touched and inspired many as she told her story and celebrated her family and her life. Sometimes she would write and sometimes she would post videos
One time when she was pretty sick she said to me, “Dad, I wish I had more time so that I could impact as many people as you have.” I said, “Bethany you have already impacted way more people than I ever will.”
She made her last video the night before she died. Although it is hard to watch as she was really struggling, it had over 70,000 views.
I believe her impact can continue for years to come. That is why I have chosen to run the Gunflint Mail Run this year and raise money to create the Bethany Adams Memorial Fund, a permanent endowment in her honor that will send an underprivileged kid to camp each year. She so loved her kids and I know she would be thrilled to see her life and story send kids to camp that otherwise would not have that opportunity.
Please watch for more blogs as I prepare to run this race. I will talk about the training, the dogs and the nutrition. I’ll answer questions such as: What do you need? How do you pack? Where do you sleep? I’ll also share stories of the impact camp has on kids, and much, much more. I’m looking forward to sharing this adventure with you as I honor and remember Bethany.