What do you call a family that surfs the summers in Hawaii, snowboards competitively at the national level in the winter, and skateboards everywhere in between? Besides Rad, they’re the Bogarts. You might think this fairytale lifestyle is only available to the privileged among us, but that’s not the case. Sacrifice, strength, courage, and above all, love, are what makes this possible. The Bogarts are an inspiration to our brand and truly embody what it means to be Rad Like Dad – family first, family fun, family strong.
To give you some context, RLD’s Nate Wessel first met the Bogarts at Woodward in 2012 when they had come over to train. He was immediately captivated by their family dynamic. “I saw these kids encouraging one another and taking care of each other. Something you don’t see everyday between brothers and sisters. Their youngest, Kenzie, has leukemia. Something I can’t even imagine. And she has the courage to fight back and be positive every day, when every day is the hardest day of her life. Tyler, Kailey, and Ashley are always there to help and make Kenzie smile. The love, the courage, and the strength they have for one another is truly inspiring and has made me want to become a better father… a better person.”
For the past few years the Bogarts have lived in Hawaii where Rad Dad, Jesse, serves in the U.S. Air Force. The family is blessed with phenomenal access to the best surfing in the world, but with all that Hawaii has to offer, it does lack in one area... rideable snow terrain. So to make training happen for this crew of champions, the Bogart family is forced to travel to places like Lake Tahoe, Colorado, and Utah in the winter.
In the winter of 2013/14 Jesse and supermom Jen decided to split the household and to give their kids this amazing opportunity. Jesse remained in Hawaii to work while Jen moved all four kids into a one-bedroom apartment in Tahoe. Jesse wrote to us about the incredible situation, “To bluntly state it, it takes many sacrifices to try to provide these opportunities to our kids. Throughout the first couple winters, our youngest and oldest kids would rotate back to Hawaii at different times so that each parent was basically running a single parent household 3000 miles apart. Yes, by choice.”
This is what makes the Bogarts so special. One can imagine the financial strain this places on a single-income family. There are countless nice-to-haves that they do without to make this a reality. Things like TV, cable, eating out, as well as a few modern necessities like haircuts, new clothes, and even electricity at times have to be forsaken. According to Jesse, “the first year was a learning year and the second wasn’t all rainbows either. Although, when put into perspective, the sacrifices made during those first two years were relatively easy for us compared to the winter of 2014/15.”
At the end of September 2014, Mackenzie, Jen and Jesse’s youngest, became extremely ill. Things took a turn for the worse when Mackenzie became too weak to walk and had a high fever that would not break. The ER Doctors discovered she was deprived of blood and within a few days was diagnosed with cancer. Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia had somehow taken hold of one of the strongest little girls in the world. Jesse went on to tell us, “We were uncertain of anything as the winter season began. Our family spent Christmas and New Years in a hospital room. Life itself appeared hit or miss for one of our kiddos. A couple weeks later, another rad family volunteered to host Kailey and Ashley at Northstar, California. Their season was made possible through them and the generous efforts of many friends and associates within the snowboard community. I saw only bits and pieces of Kailey and Ashley’s season during a couple long weekends. Jen and Tyler were able to be with them through USASA Nationals. In the end, both Kailey and Ashley grabbed gold and the national championship spots for snowboard halfpipe in their respective age divisions.”
Fast forward to this winter, the kids and Jen are back at again in Colorado while Jesse is holding down the fort in Hawaii. Both Ashley and Kailey are currently in 1st place for their respective age divisions and Kailey is set to compete in the 34th annual Burton US Open Snowboarding Championships Junior Jam on March 1st. And per usual, Kenzie is melting hearts and bringing smiles to those around her. Families that play together, stay together. Viva la Bogart!