On June 13th Aron Ralston enthralled the crowd at Peery’s Egyptian Theater in Ogden, Utah with the story of his harrowing experience in Utah’s Blue John Canyon and a compelling call for protection of Utah’s wild landscapes. Ralston, made famous by the movie 127 Hours, described how a day hike turned into a life-threatening ordeal when a huge boulder came loose in the canyon and trapped his arm. After being stuck for days without water, food or sleep, Ralston realized he would have to amputate his arm to survive. One of the many fascinating things about Aron’s story is that he expresses thanks for the entire experience, explaining that it helped to transform him from a somewhat self-absorbed person into one who is grateful everyday for his family and friends, and who wants to give back to his community.
This spirit of giving was evident at the Odgen event, which was sponsored by the Grassroots Outdoor Alliance (GOA), a consortium of independent outdoor retailers from around the country. At Aron’s request the GOA made a $5,000 contribution to SUWA, which was matched by a $5,000 contribution from Patagonia. Aron also donated all the sales of his books and DVD’s to SUWA – and as a result SUWA received a combined donation of over $14,000. In addition to raising money to help protect Utah’s wild lands, Aron also issued a compelling call to action – requesting that audience members fill out postcards to President Obama asking him to protect Greater Canyonlands as a national monument. Aron’s message was well received and hundreds of postcards were collected. We extend a huge thanks to Aron Ralston, the Grassroots Outdoor Alliance, Patagonia and everyone who attended the event. Working together, we can save Utah’s amazing landscapes for future generations.