Joel Reichenberger: A lasting impression

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Joel Reichenberger

Steamboat Pilot & Today sports reporter and photographer Joel Reichenberger can be reached at 871-4253 or jreichenberger@SteamboatToday.com.

Find more columns by Joel here.

— April 2 dawned with nearly 100 racers clamoring to load the gondola at Steamboat Ski Area, early morning adventurers eager to participate in the third-annual Cody’s Challenge randonee race.

From the start of the day’s race, through its base area finish and to a post-race party that rocked into the night, the spirit of Cody St. John, the man who the race was created to memorialize, was ever-present.

Almost four years after his death, St. John’s memory is leading a vibrant life.

Why, though?

St. John died after a 2007 accident in which the car he was driving veered in front of a logging truck on a Colorado highway, just south of the Wyoming border.

St. John, 29, had been on his way to the University of Wyoming for nursing classes.

By all accounts, he was a great friend to have, the kind of guy who made a great ski patroller not only because he loved the lifestyle that had him outdoors, but because he loved helping people.

That sounds like a guy worth remembering.

But a lot of people die — a lot of young, good people.

I knew one who died this past year, Andy Caress. He was the kind of guy who remembered your name after the most brief of introductions, remembered what you’d talked about and always seemed to care.

He was the kind of guy who, after his death, you want to remember, and through the Andy Caress Melanoma Foundation, originally started by Caress and kept afloat now by his friends and family, he is and will be remembered.

The story seems the same with St. John.

What separates those who are remembered by their families and loved ones from those who are remembered by hundreds? People are remembered because of how they led their lives, but perhaps more so because of what they inspired.

The lifeblood of Cody’s Challenge is a few of St. John’s friends and his family, who dedicate tremendous amounts of their time to the event, and in turn, to Cody.

Perhaps even a majority of racers last weekend never met the man. They didn’t come out that day to memorialize him. The larger the event grows, the more often that will be the case. But the event gave those who didn’t know St. John the chance to learn what he was all about.

The way he lead his life has a lot to do with why he’s remembered, and so does the tireless work of those who loved him. We should all be so lucky.

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