By Skylar Jackenthal
The most natural reaction after the death of a loved one is to shut down, but there are a select few who can thrive in the face of adversity. My dad is one of those people.
I like to compare him to the mythological phoenix because, just like a phoenix rising from the ashes, he is someone who has emerged from a catastrophic event a stronger and more resilient individual.
My father, Ron Jackenthal, founded LiveLikeSam.org and the Sam Jackenthal Fund after my older brother Sam passed away in a ski accident. Sam’s infectious courage was so inspirational to the younger kids at the skatepark and on the slopes, they still say “just Jackenthal it” before attempting an ambitious trick.
Sam was a positive and inspirational leader, which is why my dad has made it his goal to honor my brother’s life by giving scholarships to other dedicated competitors. These scholarships are not based on how they perform as athletes, but as humans and teammates.
My dad spends a considerable amount of time working to ensure that every young athlete will have the tools and confidence necessary to excel in life – both as an athlete and as a person. As someone who personally knows the cost of the sport, my dad made it his top priority to assure that no athlete is held back from pursuing their dream for financial reasons.
As a result of my father’s commitment, he has raised over $100,000 in the past two years which has helped benefit more than 100 athletes. My dad’s goal for the scholarship fund is to reward athletes who exude Sam’s characteristics and encourage others to learn to embody those traits, as well.
My dad has worked countless hours to rally the community behind these athletes and their needs. Whether it be a new pair of boots, a lift ticket or a check to pay for coaching, my dad is constantly seeking partners who are willing to provide the resources that will make all the difference in the lives of these athletes.
My brother inspired me and many young competitors nationally, but today it is my dad who inspires me the most. When faced with a difficult loss many people go dark and give up, but not my dad. He instead chose to honor the incredible life of my brother Sam. My father’s generosity inspires me every day to lead by example and his work with the Sam Fund encourages me to be my best self as I strive to help others reach that goal, too.
The young athletes in this community will someday grow up to be Olympians, teachers and parents themselves. That is why a key focus of the Sam Fund is to help ensure when that day comes, these kids are responsible and respectful citizens, of whom we are proud to say came from Park City, Utah.
So, thank you dad for helping support Park City’s young athletes who bring the same contagious joy to their sport as Sam did every day.