Casey Day has a simple goal—to stop suicide. Seven years ago, Day’s friend J.T. Fielder, took his own life in the Colorado backcountry. After that, Casey, a ski photographer from Silver Plume, Colorado, decided he didn’t want anyone else to go through the suffering that he and his friends had experienced.
So along with a group of friends that call themselves the Front Range Powder Factory, Casey has created a ski calendar where 100 percent of proceeds go to suicide prevention and awareness. We called up Casey to talk about his photography, the calendar, and J.T. Fielder’s lasting impact.
To purchase the Front Range Powder Factory Calendar, visit powderfactory.org. For more on the organization, check out the November issue of Backcountry Magazine.
Backcountry: What made you first want to become a photographer?
Casey Day: The mountains have always brought me inspiration, both through the activities I do and the visual beauty. For me, photography was a great way to get outdoors and explore nature and really share what I love with the people around me.
BCM: How long have you been a photographer?
CD: I’ve been shooting photos of my travels and adventures ever since I was a young kid. I’ve always had a camera. My dad gave me his old Pentax K100 when I was in high school. My photography interest has just grown from there. Over the last 10 or 15 years, my focus has been skiing, and traveling in the backcountry with a camera really opened up more doors than I would have ever imagined.
BCM: Tell me about J.T. What kind of impact did he have on you?
CD: J.T. left a pretty strong impact on everybody he crossed paths with. Not only did he step up my skiing a couple notches on trips with him and his father to Utah and different place, he also introduced me to the adventurous lifestyle that he grew up with. His father was a professional landscape photographer, and so J.T. spent his summers Sherpa-ing, carrying around large-format cameras over mountain passes and ridges in Colorado.
BCM: He sounds like a great guy.
CD: It’s hard, because a lot of my most vivid memories are of him toward the end of his life, when he was suffering with depression. He had his ups and downs. J.T. was at his best when he was deep in the wilderness and throwing gainers off huge cliffs or whatever. Being in the mountains, he was very comfortable there.
BCM: So how did you and your friends come up with using a calendar as way to raise money for suicide prevention and awareness?
CD: I think we were all caught in such shock when he passed away that we didn’t know what to think. So we really just wanted to make an impact and prevent others from going through what we were going through, which was a loss of life that shouldn’t have been lost. The calendar was a way to commemorate J.T.’s life and to remember him each year.
BCM: How has the reaction been to the calendar?
CD: You know, we’ve had a strong response. We’ve been raising over $10,000 a year, and the response has been overwhelming, and the calendar continues to get better and better every year.
BCM: Do you have any goals for the future of the calendar?
CD: Our goals continue to evolve as an organization since day one. My original goals was just to try and raise awareness to the community and to provide funding to those in need who weren’t able to seek therapy or medication for their depression. I really wanted to keep the calendar going for five years. I was able to reach that goal, and, at this point, it’s clear that our efforts have just begun.
For more on the Front Range Powder Factory Calendars, check out the November Issue of Backcountry Magazine.