Contact Us: info@alwayschooseadventures.org

© 2019 by Always Choose Adventures. All rights reserved.

Always Choose Adventures is a Colorado nonprofit corporation exempt from federal income tax under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. EIN #83-1239243

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MEET OUR TEAM

Our team of board members and ambassadors are dedicated to the ACA mission: To help people of all ages, backgrounds, skill levels, and physical abilities, access the outdoors, get off the couch, and connect with others while doing so.

A premature birth alongside multiple birth defects (Tracheoesophageal fistula) is how her story began. A story of being born to overcome life’s adversities and what it means to fight to live. Just a few hours after she was born – she endured major surgery and in the process had to be resuscitated 13 times. Because of a challenging beginning, she now endures vocal cord dysfunction, severe asthma, and COPD which come with their own set of unique challenges in the form of frequent and multiple respiratory infections. During her childhood – doctors instructed Chantelle’s parents to keep her indoors as much as possible; she was a bubble child. Never being able to participate in camping, hiking, backpacking, climbing, exploring or adventures left a void her a young Chantelle that would only be filled later in her life.

 

Fast forward to Chantelle’s adulthood and she still continues to overcome life’s adversities in the form of continued and persistent health issues, addiction, and depression. Desperate to break free from the ties that bind her to a life where she felt it served no purpose knowing deep down she could do so much more; she began to always choose adventures which began her new journey. She began to acquire the skills and knowledge needed to tackle almost anything she missed out on and in the process was blessed with meeting hundreds of kind, adventurous souls who've changed her world as she knows it. 

 

Her favorite adventures include but aren’t limited to camping, hiking, skydiving, volunteering, helping others, and backpacking. 

 

Chantelle founded Always Choose Adventures to remind people who may be suffering from various physical or mental conditions that ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE!

Founder

Chantelle Shoaee

Favorite Adventures:

She loves anything outside – mainly hiking, backpacking, camping, whitewater rafting, and attempting to get the perfect photo! She's hoping to get into climbing, whitewater kayaking, and snowboarding over the next year or so.

 

Why She Always Choose Adventures:

She's learned that life is too short not to. Pushing herself to try something new and that scares her helps her grow and learn so much about what she is truly capable of. After losing multiple close people in her life, she vowed to carry on their legacies and to truly live life. She came to a point in her life where she wasn't happy where she was and was terrified of waking up one day and wondering where my life went and stuck with a list of regrets. She realized that she needed to truly live, explore, and adventure. Soon after that, she went on her first hike and her life has never been the same!

Colorado Ambassador

Victoria Amico

Favorite Adventures:

They love anything outdoors. Whether it be camping, hiking, swimming or just walking around the neighborhood. Just being outside makes them happy! Officially addicted to summiting 14er's. They hope to get more completed soon. They enjoy the Denver food scene, maybe a little too much, They are also huge Rockies fans and love going to the games!

 

Why They Always Choose Adventures:

Adventures bring them closer together and test out limits as a family. They love getting their boys outside and see what they can do and accomplish. Adventures give them memories that will last a lifetime and confidence that we can do big things. On to the next adventure!!!!

Colorado Rewild Your Child Family Ambassadors

Christine Merritt & Christopher

Carpenter

Favorite Adventures:

Being a native Floridian, Rebecca's favorite adventures always revolved around water.  While most of her friends enjoyed the comfort of air conditioning, the Atlantic Ocean, the Gulf of Mexico, the Saint John's River and all of the crystal clear springs throughout the heart of the state always provided cool, calming relief from the hot, humid Florida weather. She loves canoeing, kayaking, surfing, stand-up paddle boarding, biking, hiking, and exploring the many different ecosystems that Florida has to offer.  As a certified personal trainer and yoga teacher, she's always finding ways to incorporate adventure with fitness.

 

Why She Always Chooses Adventures:

Rebecca always chooses adventures because it fills her soul with joy and she believes that life should be about enjoying every moment to the fullest. In a world where we are constantly being pulled down by thoughts of the past or worries about the future, adventures help us enjoy and stay focused on the moment we are in while creating long-lasting happy memories with friends both old and new. 

Florida Ambassador

Rebecca Chapman

Favorite Adventures:

Camping is probably her absolute favorite adventure; the more remote, the better. She also enjoys hiking, running, snowshoeing, snowboarding (badly), climbing 14ers (just above beginner here), supporting Denver’s amazing music scene, and sharing all of those things that she can with her young son.


Why She Always Chooses Adventures:

She says it’s almost embarrassing to admit, but while she's lived in Colorado almost her entire life, she didn’t actually appreciate it or enjoy it in full until her son was born. Her life shifted from selfish non-stop partying to needing to build herself into someone worthy of this little dude and to change her life into something worth sharing with him. Thankfully, she already lived in Colorado, so it wasn’t all that hard to find amazing things to do. Showing him that it’s possible and healthy and fun to push yourself into doing things you’d never thought you could is truly why she Always Choose Adventures…it doesn’t hurt that it’s loads of fun for her, as well!

Board Member

Alicia Chavez

Favorite Adventures:

Hiking, kayaking, and mountain biking

 

Why he Always Chooses Adventures: Adventures make his soul happy, every time he's out in the wilderness he feels at peace and leaves feeling recharged.

Maryland Ambassador

Philip Cox

Favorite Adventures:

White water rafting, Couch To Trail hikes, and social outings, meeting new people

 

Why She Always Chooses Adventures: Because why not? Exploring is what we are born to do. From the beginning of time we as humans have explored to learn and become more familiar with our surroundings!

Colorado

Ambassador

Liana E'Akels

Favorite Adventures:

Canyoneering, Skiing, Mountaineering, Mountain Biking, Motorcycle Riding, Pizza.

 

Why He Always Chooses Adventures: Christian grew up in a family that never spent time having outdoor adventures. His only interaction with the outdoors was found through his scout troop as they did the occasional camp or hike. As he grew up he always felt like he was missing something in life. That was until his sister started dating Nathan. Nathan took Christian on his first mountain bike ride, ski trip, and backpacking trip. Since then Christian has been passionate about all things outdoors! Now Christian is an avid canyoneer, landscape photographer, mountain biker, mountaineer, and skiier. In addition to these favorite activities, Christian dabbles in sport climbing, whitewater kayaking, and backpacking. Christian's goal as an ambassador to Always Choose Adventures is to create awareness in the outdoors to "leave no trace". "As a Colorado plateau canyoneer, he often crosses paths with ancient artifacts. It breaks his heart when he sees these items vandalized with new carvings. He doesn't believe that anyone has the intention of destroying these artifacts or the natural beauty of slot canyons, but it happens because of the increasing interest of exploring the world, and the lack of knowledge given to those before they embark on their adventure." Every time Christian goes on an adventure he seeks out waste that others have left behind and ALWAYS leaves room in his backpack to pack it out. "If you aren't a part of the solution, you are part of the problem."

Utah Ambassador

Christian Felger

Favorite Adventures:

Hiking Alpine lakes, climbing 14ers, cooking, taking scenic pictures, telling jokes, traveling new places, discovering breweries, meeting new people and being an inspiration to the Autism community and all who love the outdoors.

 

Why He Always Chooses Adventures: 

It helps him get through life and it's challenges. He has lost both of his parents and has mild autism. He has a huge passion for being outside, enjoy nature and taking amazing scenic pictures of mountains. He has the dream and the large goal of completing all 58 of Colorado's fourteeners. When he completes this feat he will dedicate his CO 14er finisher medallion to his late parents, family, and friends that have guided and supported him when he needed it. He says, "It's an honor to meet all the amazing people in ACA, it's inspired me to become a great hiker and man." He also says, “After my 20 hour Blanca Peak mishap in May 2018, ACA stepped in and helped educated me to camp and have hiking partners for my next hikes.” He also stated “My biggest accomplishment was the day I successfully climbed and summited one of the toughest 14ers in Colorado, Capitol Peak. I wouldn’t have done it without ACA.” He's very proud to be an inspiration to a lot of people and he's very excited to inspire more people to get outside and reach their adventurous goals.

Colorado Springs Ambassador

Scott Garcia

Favorite Adventures:

She enjoys hiking, but would love to learn how do more outside activities such as climbing.

 

Why She Always Chooses Adventures:

She used to be a lot heavier and unable to hike or enjoy the outdoors. Now that she's lost the weight, she wants to enjoy and do everything that she can.

Colorado Ambassador

Tami Grubbs

Favorite Adventures:
Hiking, Backpacking, Newbie to the climbing world, some time on the snow, and whatever else sounds fun that probably won’t get him killed!

Why He Always Chooses Adventures:

He had got to a point where he felt there was more to life than the way he had been living, or maybe there was a part of his life that he was still supposed to live. He really discovered backpacking in Grand Canyon National Park on a 6 day Rim2Rim2Rim, next thing he knew he was googling the PCT and that was pretty much all she wrote! The weirdest part is the work he was trying to run away from has now landed him on Oahu for this winter, and hopefully every winter for here on out!

Hawaii Ambassador

Cameron Hall

Favorite Adventures:
Backpacking, hiking, hopefully kayaking soon, camping, soloing

Why She Always Chooses Adventures:

Because they make her feel ALIVE. She gained confidence she didn't know she had. She pushes herself passed her limits. She also always choose adventures because she gains peace and exhilaration simultaneously.

Oregon Ambassador

Leslie Jean

Favorite Adventures:

Photography, working on my Jeep, DIY projects

 

Why He Always Chooses Adventures:

He doesn't always like being stuck at home. He always choose adventures because ever since he was a little kid growing up in the Oregon Valley he has always been outdoors, in elementary school he'd go camping with his family, some of his best memories growing up have been at lakes, or rivers or campgrounds in the middle of nowhere sitting around fires telling stories or roasting s’mores. As he got older he moved away from Oregon to Massachusetts for a few years but never stopped adventuring. He hiked and climbed and camped at every chance he could get. On the weekends or after work. He moved to Texas for a few years, but there aren’t as many opportunities for outdoors stuff. His heart yearned for mountains and rivers and lakes and all things green. So he moved back to Oregon, the Bend area. Lived there for a year and have been to almost every lake, hiked several mountains and splashed in almost every river. Outdoors is my life, it’s in my DNA. And he's just getting started.

Oregon Ambassador

Ryan Landon

Favorite Adventures:

He enjoys many types of outdoor activities. His favorite is hiking in the mountains, breathing the fresh air and taking in the sights that nature has bestowed on us. Other activities include camping, backpacking, mountain biking, snowboarding, and snowshoeing.

 

Why He Always Chooses Adventures:

He enjoys maintaining a balance between work and life by unplugging from technology and escaping out to nature. Just being in the mountains is therapeutic for him. Getting there is the adventure. What he enjoys the most about ACA is being able to connect with like-minded people to share these amazing experiences with.

Colorado Ambassador

Hung Lieu

Favorite Adventures:
Climbing, camping, snowboarding, hiking and exploring top the list of Todd’s favorites whether it’s for work or play.  He enjoys getting outdoors with people from all walks of life and ability levels and is never one to shy away from lending a helping hand to adventure sports first timers.  In his professional life, he works as a rope technician helping train and encourages Non Profit fundraisers to rappel from high rise buildings across the country to raise money for some really great causes.

Why He Always Chooses Adventures:

He connected with ACA because he believes that they embody the message that everyone can choose adventures; that adventures aren’t just limited to people on the cover of National Geographic or climbing 5.13. Adventure is that thing that makes you challenge yourself and when you find yourself running into the end of your comfort zone your adventure starts when you say “yes” to going just a little further.  Your adventure doesn’t need to be putting up a new route on an 8000m peak it could simply be walking around your neighborhood and striving to walk just a little further each day. Todd has been lucky to have a lot of really great outdoor mentors in his life that have pushed him to stretch his comfort zones and now he owes a debt to help others do the same and to show others that you can Always Choose Adventures no matter who or where you are.

New York Ambassador

Todd Medeiros

Favorite Adventures:

Fishing, hiking, camping, snowshoeing, kayaking, bicycling, volunteering, traveling around the world. 

Why He Always Chooses Adventures:

After being wounded in Iraq, he spent two years in physical therapy relearning to walk. Ray made progress, but at the end was told that he would not be able to do strenuous activities. During this process, he had gone through a divorce and quit his job. Time to start life again. Ray had the opportunity to hike the Pacific Crest Trail. A grueling and wonderful accomplishment. He fell in love with the hiking world. Now, he adventures to inspire those who have been told they can't or think that they can't.

Oregon Ambassador

Ray Reynoso

Favorite Adventures:

Hiking the mountains over 4000 ft in the Northeast, hikes over 30 miles (we like to call those torture sessions), the fire tower of the Adirondacks, MAINE! She loves Maine... and winter hiking

 

Why She Always Chooses Adventures:

She always choose adventures because it’s her way of therapy and dealing with everyday life. She lives an hour North of the Adirondacks and spend most of her time hiking the high peaks, and lower mountains. She found herself in the mountains and figured out who she is, and where she truly belongs. Her uncle recently passed away from Cancer and she had to see him not able to leave the house and it put things into perspective for her, more, and she really doesn't take the fact that she is able to hike for granted. 

New York Ambassador

Amanda Riggs

Favorite Adventures:

Gerry’s favorite adventures are his new route climb on Alaska’s 17,400-foot Mount Foraker’s North Ridge in 1975. He named the ridge Archangel as a remembrance for his fallen climbing partner Gary Lukis.

His traverse of Alaska’s 16,390-foot Mount Blackburn in 1977 is a close second as a favorite adventure.

His second favorite major adventure was his ascent of 16,050-foot Vinson Massif in 1985, Antarctica’s highest peak.
With this climb, Gerry became the second person to have climbed Earth’s seven continent summits. 
He likes to joke that he was the first non-millionaire to achieve this feat.

Why He Always Chooses Adventures: 

Gerry learned as a young teenager that he was happiest on the rocks and in the high mountains. preferably both at the same time. 
Now, almost seven decades later, he still pursues his outdoor passions with all the energy that he can muster. 
Looking back across a lifetime of grand adventures, he has recently asked himself what adventure would he have sacrificed 
to put him in a better financial position today. His answer was an immediate and emphatic “None!"
Gerry jokes that he will climb K2 when he is 85. Who knows? He might actually go for it! 

Gerry is happy to promote Always Choose Adventures with gusto, since with today’s global environmental issues, we need to understand and bond with raw nature more than ever before. 

Brand Ambassador

Gerry Roach

Favorite Adventures:

Hiking, camping, 4x4ing, skiing, snowshoeing and paddle boarding

Why She Always Chooses Adventures: 

Adventuring get’s her blood pumping and keeps her fit physically and healthy emotionally. She strives to build new and enduring relationships and encourage others to challenge themselves as they tackle new experiences and challenges together such as endurance competitions, climbing 14ers or rappelling 150 foot off arches into freezing cold pools of water!  Choosing adventures let’s us connect and help each other navigate through our individual challenges, share, renew and preserve all the amazing places, animals and people this beautiful world has to offer.

Colorado Ambassador

Cassandra Roberts

Favorite Adventures:

Both camping and hiking. She also loves snowshoeing. She tried cross-country skiing for the first time with ACA this past winter 17/18 and plans on going again next winter, Any excuse to be in the mountains is a good excuse, in my opinion, she craves it!
 

Why She Always Chooses Adventures:

Because it is much more fun to be active and stay in shape outdoors, hiking and camping...etc, than being in the gym or working out to videos at home. The beauty of Colorado is so rewarding. She has lived here all my life and have always camped with her parents and done things in the mountains, but she really got in to hiking about 6 years ago after a breakup with someone who did not want to do ANYTHING active, so she is making up for that and choosing adventure every chance she get/hiking as much as possible.

Colorado Ambassador

Kristy Roggeman

Favorite Adventures:  Her Favorite adventures are when her husband and her pack up the dogs in the Jeep and just go. They head for the mountains and look for dirt roads. The best part is when you stumble upon a ridiculous camp site with an amazing view. She absolutely loves camping. Day hikes would be next on the list and really just being outside and listening to the sounds of nature. She is looking forward to learning more about rock climbing this year and fine tuning that skill.

 

 

Why She Always Chooses Adventures: After moving to Colorado from Michigan and growing up in Florida, she realized all the things she was missing out on. Finding the mountains was like finding religion. Since that 1st time rock climbing in Golden she's been hooked. The outdoors is like therapy and helps feel more connected to the Earth. We are all flowers just trying to find the sun!

Western Slope, Colorado Ambassador

Natasha Salem-McDowel

Favorite Adventures:  Her favorite adventure is exploring this world and all it has to offer! She may be mildly addicted to snowshoeing, the quiet and magic comes alive in a snow-covered forest. She loves to travel, knocked off 28 countries and counting, hiking, camping, ice fishing, canoeing/kayaking, scuba diving, and just overall exploring!

 

 

Why She Always Chooses Adventures: She grew up with nature as a huge part of her life.  She believes life is an adventure, and nature is where we go to recharge.  As a child, she grew up in a small town and for a good chunk lived on a farm.  She always had a connection to animals, and was horseback riding by the age of 7, scuba diving regularly by the age of 12, and was pretty much always outdoors.  As an adult, she finds the most peace on top of a mountain, or in a snowy forest. Her belief is that without nature in our lives we are not whole.

Board Member

Lauren Sawvel

Favorite Adventures:

Lara is always up for traveling and finding new places to explore. Her favorites acitivies include hiking, backpacking, cycling, kayaking, trail running and snowshoeing. 

 

Why She Always Chooses Adventures:

Since the age of 19, Lara has lived in Colorado 3 times. She has enjoyed many adventures over the years, including summiting 14ers, competing in triathlons, and taking on The Pikes Peak Ascent. After moving back to Colorado for good, she received some unexpected news and was diagnosed with breast cancer in January 2018. A month after undergoing a double mastectomy, she met up with Always Choose Adventures for a hike. "It was tough, as I had lost a lot of my strength and was completely out of breath. Everyone was so welcoming, and it was motivating to be around people who shared my passion for the outdoors." She continued to plan and pursue adventures, as it helped maintain her positive outlook. Her greatest accomplishments this past year have been summiting Mt. Evans with her son, backpacking Havasupai, and beating cancer. 

Colorado Springs Ambassador

Lara Seng

Favorite Adventures:

ANYTHING! She says, "I don't like favorites because you get stuck doing the same things!" Camping, hiking, white water rafting, anything that scares her, comedy, cooking, traveling service work and being social just to name a few.

 

Why She Always Chooses Adventures:

She had a setback in 2011 when she crashed skiing and broke her back and developed asthma. For a while, she let the pain and lack of breathing hold her back from so much.  At the end of 2016, she put a focus on her personal happiness and said she would find adventure and she has. Her goal is to help others find the same happiness in whatever positive adventure they choose to get themselves active in. She loves that ACA provides tools, training, confidence, and assistance to people from all walks of life in order to try new things, learn new hobbies and grow as happy, healthy individuals.

Director of Communications

Brittany Schwartz

Favorite Adventures:

They are all so memorable! She loves camping, hiking, kayaking, SUPing, and off-roading but if she had to choose just one, it would be stargazing at Bishop Castle. Her husband took her to San Isabel before they were married, almost 25 years ago, and she fell in love. After they got married and had their kids they started taking them there too. Two years ago they were blessed to be able to purchase a cabin there. That area is beautiful, but the castle is MAGIC! When she is there she feels like she's in a fairy tale and anything is possible. Stargazing at the castle was so much fun. Being there with ACA was like being there with family. The live music, the friends the atmosphere it was beyond words. This is what adventuring is all about.

 

Why She Always Chooses Adventures:

Being outside makes her happy. Life is bogged down with stress and drama. When she is outside she feels peaceful, hopeful and whole. Now that she has had a taste of this contentment, she wants more! She wants to do all the adventures and she is so thankful she found this wonderful community to do adventures with. The second part of my why is that she never went on adventures. She was overweight, out of shape and isolated. She always felt like that was for other people, not her. She did a health program in January 2017 and she lost 60lbs. With my new health, she discovered that adventures are for her! She loves the challenge of hiking and meeting new people. 

Colorado

Couch To Trail Ambassador

Stephanie Solorzano

Favorite Adventures:

Hiking, Fishing, Backpacking and Kayaking

 

Why She Always Chooses Adventures:

She has had lead a difficult life. At the age of 7 she became a foster child and was a ward of the state of Oregon for over 12 years. She was at this time an advocate and public speaker for teens in the foster care system. She also has been faced with many domestic violence situations through out her young adult years. She has also turned those situations into positive ones and now leads a domestic violence support group for women. She's faced many hurdles in life, however she has always choose adventures and her therapy is being outdoors and in touch with nature. She hopes to teach people that there is comfort in the outdoors and sometimes it is important to be apart of something bigger than yourself. Life is what you make it and getting outside and seeing the real beauty of this world is an amazing experience. She recently purchased an angler kayak and she's hoping to spend a lot of time on the water in the next few months.

Oregon Ambassador

Jessica White

Favorite Adventures:

Climbing, backpacking, hiking... Really any adventure with her daughter Rylie! She inspires her to do more and to discover new sights!! From backpacking into the Grand Canyon to rock climbing in Colorado she'll always be her favorite adventure partner!

 

Why She Always Chooses Adventures:

Over 3 and a half years ago she was told by her doctor that in 6 months she would be in a wheelchair for the rest of her life. This was due to the column tumors in her spine that were growing and pushing on her nerves to make her legs go numb, and she was unable to walk. That night she asked her best friend to hike Pikes Peak with her; it was always on her bucket list, and it was now or never! Two days later she climbed that damn mountain, and never turned back!!! She's now an avid mountaineer and rock climber! To this day her doctors can't explain how her tumors have shrunk and are almost gone. She truly believes that the mountains and nature healed her, and continue to do so! It's her dream to see people healed by nature as she and many others have been!

Colorado Ambassador

Ashley Blair Yeager

Favorite Adventures:

Traveling! Exploring new places. Hiking. Biking. Camping. SUP. Yoga. CrossFit. Pretty much anything outside.

 

Why She Always Chooses Adventures:

After starting a software development company in 2009, Bryony found herself spending ten plus hours a day on her computer, every day of the week. Although her hard work has paid off, she spent way too many years inside working and was losing the sense of adventure that has always been part of her spirit. In 2016 she decided that something had to change and she started looking for new ways to challenge herself. She did the 200-hour yoga teacher training at CorePower yoga, and it changed everything. She remembered how good it felt to push herself physically and mentally and started looking for new ways to push herself more. That is when she stumbled across the ACA Facebook group. Since joining she has done things she never thought possible. She went on a canyoneering trip in Moab where she climbed, repelled, stemmed and swung from an arch. She went on a week-long yoga retreat in Costa Rica. She has gone camping more times than she has in her whole life. She hiked her first 14ers. She also completed her first half Tough Mudder. Up next... backpacking in the Grand Canyon with ACA.

Board Member

Bryony Zasman