Son sets course to help an international friend
The Aspen Times
When 12-year-old Storm Silich came home from rugby practice, he told his father he had to do something.
“He felt really strongly that he had to do something,” said father John Silich, a longtime Roaring Fork Valley resident and former standout rugby player and coach with the Gentlemen of Aspen. “He had this emotion, this compassion.”
Storm had been at Junior Gents practice at Willits Field in El Jebel, where he had met Jack Johnson, a 7-year-old from Great Britain who became the inspiration for his action plan.
Jack’s father, Andy Johnson, played international rugby league for Great Britain. Through a rugby benefactor in the United Kingdom, Andy Johnson and his family were guests at the benefactor’s house in Aspen in late July.
The two-week trip was a family adventure in Colorado that likely was a once-in-a-lifetime event for young Jack, who is stricken with Duchenne muscular dystrophy.
Fighting the rare disease since 2011, he will die from it unless a cure is found, according to the charity set up for him, JoiningJack.org.
While in the area, the Johnsons visited the Junior Gents’ rugby practice, where they visited the players and their families, including Storm.
“As a father, you are trying to find teachable moments all the time,” John Silich said. When he and Storm brainstormed about what to do for Jack, Storm suggested a benefit bicycle ride to Vail from their home in the midvalley.
“We decided this is something actionable,” John Silich said. “We could do this, even though it will be a big challenge for a 12-year-old.”
They considered options and settled on a son-father bike ride to raise money for Jack Johnson.
“It’s something he and I can do together,” said John Silich, who has been riding regularly with Storm in advance of the September ride.
They decided Storm would handle the direct fundraising by personally drawing sponsors for the ride.
“He’s going to go get the sponsorships,” John Silich said. “He’s going out and meeting people in person.”
Appointments with potential donors have been set up.
“Storm is going and meeting people, … learning how to present himself,” his father said.
The charity gave the duo the go-ahead for the cycling fundraiser.
This year, John Silich said, the ride will be just the two of them — son and father.
A target of $5,000 is envisioned for this first endeavor, he said.
A Facebook page for the ride is available. They’re planning to ride to Vail around Sept. 12.
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