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First Descents Coronavirus Update

By: First Descents HQ

2021 Program Update

While we’re stoked to turn the page on 2020, we know there’s a long way to go until everything returns to normal. So, you’re probably wondering what that means for First Descents Programming in 2021?

This year, we’re planning to relaunch programs for all of our communities, including young adults impacted by cancer and MS, as well as frontline healthcare workers. In an effort to provide the safest experience possible, programs will begin later this year following the widespread rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Those who were scheduled to attend a cancelled program in 2020 will be given first access to register for 2021 adventures. Stay tuned for program announcements on FD’s Programs Page. While we safely relaunch programs over the next few months, we may not be able to serve every person who was scheduled to join a 2020 program, so be sure to check for Out Living It Project community adventures near you.

If you have any questions about adventures happening this year or program eligibility, please contact [email protected] or call 303.945.2490.

Dear Friends,

First Descents is built to serve, and we’re committed to supporting the FD Family through this crisis. We’ve been thrilled by the participation in our virtual programs, and will soon have a new platform to support alumni with their own future adventure planning. Furthermore, we will continue to assess when it is safe to offer programs to Oncology and MS communities, and will communicate updates as soon as possible.

With service in mind, I’m honored to share that First Descents will soon launch programs for healthcare workers on the front-lines of COVID-19. Appropriately titled HERO RECHARGE, this effort is made possible by a leadership gift from the Dunkin’ Joy in Childhood Foundation. As such, these activities will not impact programs for young adults coping with cancer and MS.

We are fortunate to have amazing relationships with hundreds of hospitals nationwide, where doctors, nurses, and social workers have Prescribed Adventure to thousands of their patients. Now, these devoted healthcare workers are on the front-lines of the most devastating health crisis of our lifetime. This compounds the existing anxieties and high-stress nature of their work. Simply put, we must care for those who care for all others, and we believe adventure can help these heroes recharge.

CLICK HERE to view the new program landing page and share with healthcare professionals and first responders in your network. To learn more about this campaign and how you can help, please reach out to Ray Shedd, Director of Advancement.

Please take care of yourselves and continue to support one another. This storm will pass, and when it does, let’s be ready to adventure together! Meanwhile, hold fast to the Out Living It spirit and Standby for Adventure…

With gratitude,


Executive Director

A Special Video Message from First Descents Founder, Brad Ludden

Our Path Forward – A Message from Ryan O’Donoghue, Executive Director

Dear First Descents Family, 

I’m writing with an update on how the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis is impacting the First Descents (FD) community. It goes without saying, recent weeks have been challenging for all of us. Each new day brings about change, varying degrees of uncertainty, and underlying anxiety about what the future holds. Moreover, this pandemic compounds the fears and feelings of isolation for those coping with cancer and other serious health conditions

Adventure teaches us the power of adaptation and resilience. Navigating these uncharted waters will require balancing optimism with a realistic understanding of what must be done to keep our community safe. 

First Descents is planning for inevitable changes and actively preparing to support members of our community who are especially impacted. It is clear that this unprecedented crisis will have implications that may extend well beyond the near-term. Ensuring the health and safety of this community, our team, and the courageous participants who we serve is our highest priority. 

With this in mind, we have made the difficult but necessary decision to suspend programs and events until further notice. We simply cannot risk the health and safety of our participants and staff, especially when travel is involved. Please know we stand ready to provide programs as soon as it is safe to do so!

In the meantime, we are closely monitoring federal and state health and safety mandates while working in close coordination with FD’s Coronavirus Task Force. Stay tuned for more information to follow.

Furthermore, we must embrace uncertainty and its creative potential. As much as we typically encourage detaching from devices and screen time in favor of time spent in the great outdoors, we are in the process of developing FD-inspired online experiences that will unite our community during these unusual times.

As members of the FD community, we share a profound connection – one that will have meaning throughout our lives. Being part of this community offers much more than memories. We have the opportunity to be a part of something much bigger than ourselves during this time of need.

Lastly, our work would not be possible without the generous financial support of those who believe in our mission. If you’ve given in years past, we humbly ask you to consider recommitting at a similar level. Regardless, gifts at any level help to fuel the healing power of adventure. CLICK HERE to show your support.

Holding fast to FD’s Out Living It mindset, we must stay the course, support each other, and standby for adventure once this storm clears. And it will…

With gratitude,


Ryan O’Donoghue
Executive Director




When this storm clears, First Descents will be ready to support our participants who’ve been especially impacted by this crisis. Here’s what you can do: 

  1. Share your story by creating an FD Ripple Campaign. Right now the world needs stories of resilience and Out Living It.
  2. If you’re able, please consider a donation to our Standby for Adventure Campaign. While programs are in a holding pattern, the generosity of the FD Family never ceases! Every $1,000 raised sponsors a participant to attend a local multi-day program.
  3. Reach out to a friend and take care of each other. Practice self-care. Adhere to the healthcare guidelines currently in place in your area. Stay safe and Standby for Adventure! 

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