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Who Inspires You to Get Outside? Outdoor Inspiration Awards Nominations Deadline Dec 14

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From left to right the 3 main summits are Aiguille du Chardonnet (3,824m); Aiguille Verte (4,122m); and Mont-Blanc (4,810m); Photograph by Laurent Soyris, My Shot

Listen up, people: I need you to act on this by Dec. 14. The outdoor industry is looking for nominees for Outdoor Inspiration Awards, and we want to hear from you.

I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that if you’re reading this, you’re the outdoorsy type. You like to get outside and hike, climb, ski, run, camp, paddle, bike, or whatever it is that makes you smile. Love for the outdoors is something people like us carry in our hearts and what feeds our souls every day.

If you look back, what has inspired you to explore the outdoors? Is there a person or organization or company that introduced you to outdoor adventure, or showed you the ropes, or encouraged you tackle challenges you weren’t sure possible?

For me, I draw inspiration from a past winner: Erik Weihenmayer. This guy has conquered the seven summits—which include Everest (obviously)—and he’s blind. He’s done adventure races against contestants with full vision and nearly won. He leads disabled veterans up big peaks to help them heal. He’s learning to kayak so he can run the Colorado River next year. He has a non-profit organization, No Barriers, that empowers people to adopt a “no barriers” mindset and discover their inner potential.

Despite his blindness, Erik knows no limits. And he doesn’t lump himself into some sort of disabled camp. He tackles challenges that even those with 20/20 vision would find daunting. So I figure, if Erik can do stuff like jump off a 40-foot cliff into a raging river, I can push myself to ski a pitch that makes me a little weak in the knees. He motivates me and thousands of others to explore, try new things, push a little harder, dig deep for courage, and have confidence. That’s inspiration.

The Outdoor Inspiration Awards—sponsored by adidas Outdoor—recognize such efforts. Who or what comes to mind for you? Tell us. We want to know.

I bet you can think of a few people, companies or organizations that stand out as mentors, role models and inspirations when it comes to encouraging more people to enjoy the outdoors. It doesn’t have to be someone revered or famous. It could be an unsung hero—a quiet outdoor champion whose infectious love of the outdoors spreads to others.

For a little context, here are the past winners:

  • Erik Weihenmayer – I think Inspiration might be Erik’s middle name. He was the first (and only) blind climber to summit Everest. He’s always off tackling some crazy adventure.
  • First Descents – This group helps cancer survivors regain control of their lives through outdoor adventures.
  • Martin Fox – This guy founded the Center for Global Leadership. The outdoors is an integral part of the curriculum. It makes sense—themes of challenge, teamwork and adversity help make good leaders.
  • Mountain Mama – Why should pregnant ladies get no gear love? Mountain Mama makes technical maternity clothing so future mamas can bring their unborn babes into the woods.
  • National Outdoor Leadership School – Surely you’ve heard of NOLS, the school where students learn how to survive in the wild and become outdoor leaders.
  • Nantahala Outdoor Center – This South Carolina outfitter has introduced millions of people to the joy of the outdoors through rafting, biking, fishing, climbing and other adventures.
  • The North Face – Yeah, this is one of the biggest outdoor brands. It’s also a company that motivates millions get outside and have fun. In fact, one of their goals is to inspire a global movement of outdoor exploration.

So as you can see, past winners span the gamut—from intrepid individuals to leadership organizations, small companies to mega brands. No matter the category, winners embody the spirit of the adventure and prove it by inspiring and motivating others to enjoy the outdoors.

Who do you think is worthy of an Outdoor Inspiration Award? We want to know.

Nominees will be judged on their ideas, implementation, creativity, results and durability of the effort. Finalists will be selected by a panel of outdoor industry leaders. Winners will be announced Jan. 24, 2013 at Outdoor Retailer Winter Market in Salt Lake City.

Hurry! The nomination deadline is Friday, Dec. 14. You can learn more and submit a nomination form on the Outdoor Retailer website.

Avery Stonich is communications manager for Outdoor Industry Association. Follow us on twitter: @OIA and @averystonich