I am not a “joiner” or “doer.” Likely a product of my Generation X upbringing where showing care about anything at all was deeply uncool, I have never once voted for a “rider of the year,” “clip of the year,” “moment of the year” or “move of the year” across any of our extreme sporting genres. I see the “fan favorite” contests on social media, the pleas for mercy, and steadfastly ignore.
No, I have never once voted until just days ago when I fiddled onto Red Bull’s website to press that button for John Jackson, sending him to Natural Selection as a wildcard and repaying a near-decade old debt.
For it was a near-decade ago that I was in Reno, Nevada with my new wife, her eight-year-old daughter and her brand-new Christmas puppy named Hashbrown. We had spent a happy holiday in Squaw but it was time for the dear child to rejoin her father and his family back home in San Diego. My wife and I were due in San Francisco.
The drive from Squaw to Reno had been uneventful save a growing nervousness in the child, who had never flown by herself before and never with a puppy, certainly not one named Hashbrown.
My wife and I tried to comfort her and she put on a brave face but as we wheeled her luggage into the terminal, the discomfort was palpable and heart-wrenching, made worse by the airline employees informing us that she was too young to fly with a puppy alone.
Right as tears began to bubble, John Jackson strode in also flying to San Diego. The very picture of a happy dirty hippie. He stopped to chat with my wife, she explained that it would be the child’s first solo flight and also first with Hashbrown and that the airline was gumming up the works.
John Jackson beamed and said, “I’ll take her!” And without a second thought signed up to be her guardian, putting his arm around her, picking Hashbrown’s kennel up and strolling through the gate with a smile.
The clouds parted.
That night, after landing, my wife called her daughter who recounted how enjoyable the trip had been, and how safe she felt, all thanks to John Jackson.
A near-decade on, that same John Jackson is headed to Jackson Hole, Wyoming to participate in Natural Selection, the vey picture of a happy dirty hippie, because his beautiful selflessness and my first ever vote.