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Kyle Beckler: Why I Give Back

Kyle Beckler moved from Colorado to Alaska three years ago, after working on a commercial fishing boat in the summer, then staying for the winter to work at a ski shop and join the ski patrol at Alyeska Resort, in Girdwood. Beckler, who’s also a speed flyer and a Flylow ambassador, lives the life of a seasonal employee, jumping from one thing to the next. In between seasonal gigs a couple of years ago, he decided he wanted to do something that would make an impact. So, through an NGO called Conscience International, he flew to Hungary, took a train to Romania, and got a ride into war-torn Ukraine. His first time in Ukraine in 2022, he lived and worked out of a church in the city of Odessa, where he made food that was delivered to people in need. We called Beckler recently as he was finishing up shoveling his roof in Alaska to talk about privilege, hardship, and perspective. These are his words. 

I was living in Durango, recovering from an injury and I knew I wanted something different. I saw an ad on Craig’s List for commercial fishing. Next thing I knew, I was thrown on a longliner boat, working 24 hours days. The best part of that job is it got me to Alaska.

I feel privileged. By most people’s standards in the U.S., I’m considered poor. I don’t have a lot of money. But I’m rich in experience. I receive so much good energy from the things I do and the communities I’m a part of. I figured if I receive so much good energy, I have to give it back. Lucky for me, I had a connection to humanitarian work through my dad and being a seasonal worker, I had gaps of time off, so going to Ukraine seemed like the right thing to do.  

In Ukraine, I was working six or seven days a week, making packets of food that were being delivered to people on the front lines. These people were displaced. You could see that in their faces. The place that they had lived forever is no more, or it’s taken over. It’s hard to see that. 

After that, I went back to Alaska and worked ski patrol for the winter. Then some commercial fishing over the summer in Prince William Sound. I made enough money to travel again, so I went back to Ukraine last November. I made a promise to a kid there. He’d come up to me when I was leaving and said, ‘When are you coming back?’ I kept saying, ‘I’ll try to come back in a year.’ After I’d promised him I’d be back, I wanted to deliver on that.

When I went back in November 2023, one of the things I saw that was different was the amount of aid being offered. With the war in Israel and Palestine, it’s notable how the amount of humanitarian aid has decreased in Ukraine. They don’t have as much food coming in. This war in Ukraine has been going on since 2014. These people have been grinding hard. They’re tired.

I like having fun. I work hard and I play hard. There’s that inner thing in me. Maybe it’s how I was raised, but the world is burning: There are some good things, there are also bad things. I feel like I have to give back.

The one thing that people can do: Give money. It’s hard to ask for money, but that’s how these things work. When I was in Ukraine for the second time, all those trips were possible only because of funds. Through those funds, we were able to buy food, supplies, medical gear, gas, and transportation. I raised $400 and that allowed us to fill our van with supplies. Sure, you could post on social media to raise awareness, but money allows people to get things done.

This work has changed my perspective. The things I’ve seen have changed the way I see the world. Now I see people dancing and skiing and having fun, and that’s awesome. But there’s so much struggle in the world. Skiing is an amazing sport, but it shouldn’t define who we are.

People in Ukraine have to live in constant fear due to their experiences throughout this war. People in Alaska and elsewhere in the U.S. mostly live in ease. For me, I ski all the time, I fly 500 feet up in the air with the birds. I walk around not worrying that I’m going to get bombed on. I am lucky.

[To donate to the organization that Kyle works with, check out Conscience International on a desktop.]

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