"Honestly it is one of my favorite days out of the year -- I think even more than Christmas," said Nick Ruschmeyer. "It's pretty awesome, pretty awesome."
That day is Hope On the Slopes, a skiing and riding fundraiser for the American Cancer Society. A smiling Ruschmeyer was at Jay Peak Sunday, surrounded by family and friends and riding for a very special cause. "I was diagnosed in 2011 with choroidal melanoma, which is a rare form of cancer, especially in someone my age," Ruschmeyer said.
He was just a sophomore at Johnson State College when he was diagnosed. Despite years of treatment, the disease spread to his lungs -- but he remains positive.
"He has been such an inspiration to everybody that he has come across. It hasn't stopped him from doing anything he loves -- pursing his dreams. He has been amazing," said Nick's mother, Sherrie Ruschmeyer. "He has been to Alaska. He has been out West. He just keeps living his life and that is what it is all about."
This year's Hope On the Slopes event at Jay raised $25,000 -- thanks to 120 participants.
"We have skiers and riders from across New England here to support that they know who have gone through cancer and either lost them to cancer or in honor of those who are still fighting and still here," said Jessica Blais with the American Cancer Society.
And the 25 skiers with bright green shirts came to support 'Team Nick' -- and so much more.
"I think that's the reason most of us are here -- is to give back," Ruschmeyer said. "It's great to see people come together and give back to the community and to people who really need it -- it's awesome."
This is the third year Jay Peak has hosted Hope on the Slopes -- and the support keeps coming.
"We continue to increase participation. The word spreads up here in the Northeast Kingdom. We have folks that are college age. We have youth participants, We have seniors that are out here skiing. It's about having fun while supporting the American Cancer Society," Blais said.
A cause that is important to many people's hearts -- including Team Nick.
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