Ambassador Ryan Hudson Fills Us In On How Role Models Have Shaped His Life's Path

Mar 7th 2013

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They call me Ryan Hudson, I'm 24 yrs young. Born and raised in San Diego, CA. The youngest of 5 and homeless my entire childhood. I spent a good portion of my early life in and out of shelters and on the streets. When my family would find a home we would be in neighborhoods riddled with gang and drug activity. Being that young you don't quite notice things are bad, to you, things are as normal as it gets. That is how I led my life until the age of 14. The older I got the more I began to notice how we had been living and it devestated me to know that my family and I were so far in a hole it would take triple the effort to get out, so I did just that. I found a place for homeless and runaway teens called The Toussaint Academy where I was able to explore many of my interests. I got into many creative things; music, graphic design, writing, capoeira and others. None of those activities gave me the feeling of liberation I was looking for, and then I met Chris Rutgers.

Chris began a non-profit organization called Outdoor Outreach. Where he vowed to try and make positive lasting changes in the lives of the at risk through comprehensive outdoor programming. He came to the shelter and offered to take a group of us kids up to Big Bear Mountain where he introduced us to snowboarding. This is where my current life came to a complete halt and launched a serious 180. Chris then gave me an opportunity to work with him, introducing other kids to the outdoors and activities they could fall in love with. He became my boss, then my friend. Throughout the years he became my role model. The way he gave kids the chance to change their life. He gave them opportunities to take a chance with the outdoors and take back the positive energy they felt to their friends and families. Once my snowboarding took off he became my mentor, knowing what was best for me and how to go about being involved in the industry. Today he is still all those things and more. Without him, many of us at Outdoor Outreach would not be where we are or who we are today.

Everyone deserves a role model in their life. Even though they may not know it, a role model exists in their life today. A role model is someone who inspires you, someone who motivates you or opens your eyes and introduces you to new, positive experiences. A role model could be a friend, a parent, sibling, relative, or someone who we have never met, like a celebrity, athlete, or a musician. For most of us, our role models are within our community and it is up to us to surround ourselves with the right people. They are the ones who open doors and change lives based on their actions and words.

Although Outdoor Outreach has helped me discover so many things- beyond all else I’m thankful to Chris for introducing me to snowboarding. Snowboarding has given me something that I do not believe I could have found anywhere else. It’s my number one. Through snowboarding I find myself learning a new life lesson daily. What I’ve learned is my relationship with the outdoors is constantly evolving. As life happens we tend to forget what is right in our own back yard and I feel like it is my duty to make everyone aware of their opportunities and surroundings. The outdoors has given me happiness, peace, comfort, inspiration and support. Most importantly the outdoors has given me a life. Without it, I would most likely not be here today.

Even you can be a role model by opening your arms and sharing your passion with someone in your life. Without role models I don't think anyone would be who they are today, especially me. We are the driving force of the communities we come from and have a responsibility to give back as much as we can in any way we can. Being a role model is the first step to turning someones life right-side-up. So get out there and change a life for the better.