Events celebrate life of DeSo

Friends, family remember Justin DeSorrento

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— Jim and Karen DeSorrento aren't looking for closure to their son's death but a way to keep his spirit alive.

For the past five years, the DeSorrentos have made a point of inviting about 100 family members and friends to Steamboat Springs for Ski for DeSo Day.

Justin DeSorrento was an extreme skier who frolicked through Steamboat's backcountry and raced down some of Mount Werner's steepest chutes.

He died in a car crash in Buena Vista July 17, 1997. Three people died in the head-on collision, including Justin.

The DeSorrentos have owned a home in Steamboat for 25 years and thought the Steamboat Ski Area was the perfect place to hold the annual event because it was Justin's favorite.

"The purpose is to remember and celebrate Justin. This should be the focal point," said Justin's father, Jim.

Ski for DeSo Day begins at 11 a.m. Tuesday, which would have been Justin's 25th birthday, at the top of Chute 1 for prayers and songs to remember him.

"I wouldn't go down if my life depended on it," Jim said of Chute 1, which was renamed Chute 1: DeSo's Descent last year. "That's probably where the ski patrol chased (Justin) out of bounds."

Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. President Chris Diamond said the ski area was delighted to rename the run on Mount Werner after Justin because of his love for Steamboat and the family's community contributions.

"(Jim) has been a huge asset to the community. This is our way of giving back," Diamond said.

The day ends with a one-time performance by Kip Attaway at 4:30 p.m. at the Bear River Bar & Grill. The DeSo Foundation will give away three pairs of skis; winners must be present to win. Admission to the Bear River is $10 21 and older only.

Diamond said Ski for DeSo Day is more like a four-day celebration of Justin's life with dinners, lunches and other parties throughout the weekend.

"It's a wonderful event and (the DeSorrentos) are comfortable being here for the celebration," he said.

Jim said the event is not a fund-raiser but proceeds made from ticket sales to the show and from T-shirts will benefit The DeSo Foundation at the Yampa Valley Community Foundation.

The DeSo Foundation looks for people and programs that best represent the characteristics and interests associated with Justin, Jim said. Along with supporting search and rescue operations and training courses, The DeSo Foundation also helps construct facilities such as the Justin Andrew DeSorrento Sports Medicine Center at Yampa Valley Medical Center and a sports conference center at Bridgton Academy in Maine.

Jim said 20-year-old Justin was a champion mountain biker, played soccer internationally, was involved in tae kwon do and skied all over the world.

Many parents who have lost a child say time heals all wounds. Jim said time doesn't lessen the pain but creates a different outlook on life.

"It's sort of like a constant pain; you just get used to it. I would say about five out of seven days are cheerful," Jim said. "(The past five years) have been pretty miserable. There's nothing that can be worse than the loss of a child. It destroys everyone's life who knew him."

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