Dave Treadway chased life to the fullest 

Hundreds pack Fairmont ballroom to pay tribute to late pro skier

click to enlarge PHOTO FROM TREADWAY FAMILY GOFUNDME PAGE - REMEMBERING DAVE Pro skier Dave Treadway had a knack for making friends anywhere he went, but it was his relationship to his family and his faith that he valued most.
  • Photo from Treadway Family GoFundMe page
  • REMEMBERING DAVE Pro skier Dave Treadway had a knack for making friends anywhere he went, but it was his relationship to his family and his faith that he valued most.

One of Dave Treadway's favourite mantras was to "chase life." But to hear from the family and friends who gathered this week to pay tribute to the late pro skier, Dave appeared to have already discovered the essence of life and lived it in the way only he could.

Hundreds packed into the Macdonald ballroom and spilled into the hallway of the Fairmont Chateau Whistler on Monday, April 22 to remember the beloved husband, father, brother and son. He died in a fall down a crevasse in the Pemberton backcountry last week. He was 34 years old, and leaves behind his wife Tessa, sons Kasper and Raffi, and unborn son due in July.

But of course Dave's impact stretched beyond his family, and well beyond the Sea to Sky. Coming from a Christian family that his brother Darryl described as "modern-day action-sports missionaries," Dave and his family spent months at a time on missionary work around the world.

According to his father Tim, Dave had a knack for making "friends and fans everywhere," whether a group of "tattoo-parlour bike mechanics" in Thailand, an old Korean man he taught card tricks to on a flight to Canada, or a lonely neighbour who would sit with Dave around a fire discussing the deeper meanings of life.

"You know how interested he was in people," remembered Dave's mom, Deanna. "Always caring for other people until the day he died. That was David."

Dave valued experiences and relationships foremost, and none was more important than his relationship with God. A man of deep faith, Dave skied with a cross emblazoned on his helmet, and took every opportunity he could to spread the gospel.

After moving to the French Alps' ski hub of Chamonix out of high school, Dave happened to walk into a Protestant church to find a group of older women, heads bowed. They told him they had been praying for a young person to come along and start a multi-week course they had envisioned, aimed at teaching young people about Christianity. In short order, he had gathered a couple dozen ski bums to attend the weekly sessions.

His ministry continued closer to home when he launched a Young Life chapter through the Pemberton Community Church, a program that connects mentors to children to hang out, play and discuss their faith. At the time of his death, he had been in talks to launch a Young Life chapter in Golden, B.C., where he and his wife had recently bought their rugged dream home.

"David loved pioneer projects like that," explained Deanna.

Dave had a tendency to veer away from the conventions of modern life, often eschewing the comforts of home for a backcountry tent or remodelled RV. He dubbed his nuclear family the "Free Range Family," giving his sons the nomadic lifestyle his parents had once given him.

It's clear he wanted more out of life than the average person, and was willing to seek out adventure any way he could find it, toeing the line between his sense of risk and his strong morals. After all, here was a kid who, at 16, revealed to his parents that he had gotten a tattoo behind their backs. The only thing was, his act of rebellion was a tattoo of the Christian fish symbol, also known as the ichthys. "How could we say no to that?" said Deanna with a laugh.

"As we grew older, Dave became the antagonist of all these ridiculous stunts," said Dave's older brother, Dan, who recalled a time he and his brother Darryl pressured him into launching off a makeshift bike ramp in their backyard that had been lit on fire—while Dave was doused in gasoline. "He had to fight off two older bros and maybe the worst peer pressure he had was from our dad."

As he grew older, and his young family with it, Dave's "biggest concern was how to properly raise his boys," Tim, his father, explained.

Reading through a journal found in Dave's tent after his death, Tim said Dave's biggest dream was to bring his wife and sons to a patch of backcountry in Golden to complete a documentary being filmed about his family's life. Playing a portion of the footage from Free Range Family, the assembled crowd at the Fairmont got a glimpse into Dave's unique worldview.

"When I'm on my deathbed at 90-something years old, I want to be able to look back and say I did this and did that, and not be complacent," Dave says in the clip, the snow-capped mountains peeking from behind him. "To be able to have the courage to take a step and risk your life, your cozy three-bedroom home, or that RRSP or medical plan to say, 'Do I want to be comfortable, or do I really want to live?"

It's clear which path Dave chose.

A GoFundMe in support of the Treadway family has raised more than $300,000 at press time. To donate, visit gofundme.com/support-for-the-treadway-family.

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