I want powder
I want hills
I want to live this life forever
I need big hugs
I want hills
I want to live my Tangerine Dream
—Marc Andre and the Big Mammas, Tangerine Dream
A year ago, pro skier Marc Andre Belliveau wrote the above lyrics. On June 3rd at a party in his honor, Belliveau was receiving all the big hugs he could handle, while proving his Tangerine Dream isn't over. The event was a fundraiser held for Belliveau in Jackson Hole following a horrific ski crash in British Columbia that left Marc paralyzed from the waist down. To the surprise of his friends at the gigantic fundraising, he crashed his own event.
By 9 p.m. Saturday, Teton County Sheriff's Department had logged 70 noise complaints, almost 500 people had joined the party, 11 kegs were tapped, a couple dozen skis and snowboards auctioned, and a whopping $21,000 was raised to help Belliveau transition to a new lifestyle.
When Teton Gravity Research throws a friend a party, it is no small affair. "Most people aren't in the ski industry for much more than the incredible lifestyle, which brings together a group of strong characters with unique, unparalleled skills, says Dave Hudacsko, Marketing Manager at TGR. "Marc Andre is the perfect example, he has given over 7 years of his life and effort to filming with TGR, putting on a celebration was fitting.
The party came two months to the day since Belliveau had fallen, injuring his spinal cord. On April 3rd while skiing in interior British Columbia, Belliveau lost track of his line and fell over a series of rocks. He was quickly taken to Vancouver for surgery. Now after a month in the hospital, he is back in Quebec City, with his family, working hard at rehab.
Bouncing between Quebec, Salt Lake City, and other mountains around the world while filming with Teton Gravity Research, Belliveau's friendships run deep and wide. "Marc is one of the funniest French Canadians, I know, eh! says pro skier, Jamie Pierre. "He's one of the best skiers I've been honored to ride with, he tries his hardest at everything he does, which motivates all of us more.
With an infectious grin, witty song lyrics (written with his band the Big Mammas), and an overwhelming joy at being alive, Marc is more than just a skier to all who know him. "His personality and character are magnetic, says Pete O'Brien, Salt Lake based cinematographer and photographer, who's worked with Belliveau over the last eight years. "Marc is one of the best all around skiers in the world, all of his fellow pros have always singled him out with the highest admiration. So when he needed some help, friends from around the world and every corner of the snow community rush to his side.
Fellow skiers including Sage Cattabriga-Alosa, Jamie Pierre, Kina Pickett, Jen Berg, Shroder Baker, Matt Sterbenz, Charlotte Moats, and the entire TGR staff manned the volunteer stations. It seemed like the entire ski community in Salt Lake City drove up to join the Jackson locals at the event, but more importantly to spend time with Belliveau for the first time since his accident. They brought with them an unrivaled array of autographed, pro-model skis for the silent auction. For many of Belliveau's friends, his accident hit close to home and they were searching for ways to help. This event allowed them to dig out skis and hit up sponsors for gear to be raffled, create art to be sold and volunteer their time to helping him make the necessary lifestyle transitions.
Transitions are exactly what, Stand Strong Again, a non-profit dedicated to funding quality of life initiatives for people with spinal cord injuries, particularly ones suffered as a result of action sports, was created for. For the last 2 months, people have been generously donating to Belliveau's new needs through Stand Strong Again. While at the event, Matt Sterbenz, Chairman of Stand Strong Again and founder of 4FRNT skis, the SSA staff, Belliveau and his brother, Bruno, laid out goals for the over $30,000 SSA has raised. The money will help to modify Belliveau's parents' home so that he's comfortable staying there, modify his car so he has his own mobility to spend time with family and friends and help to relocate Marc to a more intense, private owned rehab facility that works primarily with athletes suffering spinal cord injuries.
"Marc's spirits were outstanding when he arrived. Incredible strength and focus, but when I dropped he and his brother off at the Jackson airport on Sunday morning, he was on fire with enthusiasm, says Sterbenz. "That's all anyone that attending could have asked for. He's a major inspiration to us all. Following a season filled with so many points of bad news and sadness, Marc Andre Belliveau's fundraising party was a point of light. Having him present, surrounded by friends and fans willing to give back so much, gave faith in the bond within the ski community and in friendship.
To donate, please visit Stand Strong Again, www.standstrongagain.org.