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Support a Local Legend!

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Hi, my name is Lauren, and I'm fundraising for my neighbor and friend, Gary Cabell.

This Fundraiser is now being co-organized by Big Mountain Botanicals and friends.
UPDATE: We have raised more than half our goal; Gary now has temporary indoor plumbing, and a well will be dug in the spring. He is full of love and gratitude for all the incredible support he's received! We're continuing to raise money so he can heal up completely, finish the upgrades he needs on his cabin, get him an accessible vehicle, and hopefully get back him back on the ski hill! Please join us in celebrating Gary's 75th birthday on January 7 at The Tap House in Whitefish.
And please keep sharing this campaign! Happy Holidays to Everyone!


Gary can no longer work and Social Security is his only income. This does not cover his food, gas and medications. He even had to borrow money to pay his mortgage as prices have climbed.

We’re raising money for: Food, Firewood, Water delivery, Snow shoveling, and help with his Mortgage payments so he doesn't lose his home….the daily necessities of life.

Here is why I, and so many others, love Gary! :

I met Gary my first winter here, 30 years ago. He is a gentle giant, towering at 6’3. I was always happy when I swung onto a chairlift for a ride up the ski hill and a conversation with him. Gary radiates the energy of Love and Kindness. His is always a warm hello, and you knew you could anytime ask him for help.
He’s also a rad athlete!

He is a local legend - the first and only Black ski patroller on The Big Mountain. And for years he was one of the only Black people who lived in our small town.

He told me stories of the racism he experienced when he first moved here in 1976. And that it was tough.

Gary has a strong influence on many people in our town. Everyone's a little softer, a little kinder after seeing him because that's his spirit. My husband has known Gary for 38 years and they worked together for many of those, sharing long drives up and down the mountain road. My husband often quotes Gary's wisdom gems.

Some of those stories:

Cabelli, as he's called, or Cow Bellie, after the cow bells they would ring on the side of a ski racecourse.

When Gary was just a young buck in East Orange New Jersey, and he finally got to high school, he learned that the coach and all the kids on the track team were waiting for him! He was already a legend for his speed as a sprinter and the high school could not wait to get him on their team and start winning States!

Gary shared a story about seeing his Grandma getting all dressed up on a Tuesday in November in 1964. “Why are you getting all dressed up,” he asked her, as it wasn’t a church day. “I’m going to vote,” she said proudly. “For the first time ever, I’m allowed to vote, and my vote counts!”

Gary got a track scholarship to Western States University, in Gunnison Colorado, and moving to the mountains changed his life.

The summer after graduating, while still doing his student teaching, he got a job building chairlifts at Copper Mountain. His first day of work was the first day Copper Mountain opened! As well as wages, he got a ski pass. That pass was his ticket to a joyful life. As a natural athlete he took to the slopes with ease and grace.

In 1976 he moved up to Whitefish, Montana. Soon he signed on to become a ski patroller. His training as a teacher, along with his skills in first aid, made him a great fit. And anyone who was unlucky to have a wreck on the mountain, found a silver lining if Cabelli was the one to show up and take care of you!

He continued working on the mountain for years. As every ski enthusiast knows, it takes a lot to make ends meet; Gary worked in many restaurants on the mountain and in town.

When he was 67, he was diagnosed with prostate cancer. There followed treatments locally, and in Seattle. This was the first event that started to drain his savings.

He continued working as the night auditor at one of the mountain hotels. Working the night shift takes an enormous toll on the body, and it was difficult for Gary to heal completely. He had some nerve damage in his left leg that made walking painful. He had a procedure to help open the channel where the nerve passes, but the surgery was not fully successful.

Still, he continued to work.

Until he couldn’t.

He'll be 75 in January.

Gary has lived, for years, in a beautiful cabin that he built with the help of friends, Like many a pioneer in this small town, without running water or indoor plumbing.

But now the challenges of hauling water, going to the gym for a shower, and driving the icy mountain roads all winter near midnight, crossing the long parking lot of employee parking to get to the hotel… all of that proved too much.

He is no longer able to work, and he needs help with daily living.

Social Security is his only income, and it doesn't cover food, water and medications. He has even had to borrow money to pay for the mortgage on his land as prices have climbed.

He needs money for: Food, Water delivery, Firewood and Mortgage payment, so he doesn’t lose his house; some minor fixes in his cabin, as well as building a handicap access for his cabin so he can come and go more easily, and snow removal.

The daily necessities of life.

Gary Cabell is an icon, a hero to many, a humble man with love in his heart. He is a dear friend to so many in this small community.

If you can help in any way, please do.

If finances are difficult for you right now, please hold Gary in your heart.

Also, drop a hello in the comments and say hello to the Man Himself!

Thank you!


  • Archie Pollock
    • $50 
    • 3 mos
  • Anonymous
    • $100 
    • 4 mos
  • Susan DeLorme
    • $100 
    • 5 mos
  • Tom LaChance
    • $250 
    • 5 mos
  • Russ Criswell
    • $50 
    • 5 mos

Organizer and beneficiary

Lauren Walker
Whitefish, MT
Gary Cabell

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