Health

Cancer patient gets wish: Riding with Jake Burton

There's a good chance almost any of the world's top snowboarders would've said 'yes' to Myles Beute.

But the ninth grader from Michigan, undergoing monthly treatments for leukemia, asked the Make-A-Wish Foundation to set him up for a day on the slopes with Jake Burton. "I wanted to meet the person who made my passion possible," Beute said.

And so, Beute took to the mountain Tuesday in Vail, Colo., with Burton, the inventor of the modern snowboard and a cancer survivor himself. "An amazing day," said Beute, from Rockford, Mich., who had always wanted to ride the mountains in Colorado. "Just the drive up here, I was amazed."

Burton said he jumped at the chance when the people at Make-A-Wish approached him about the request from the 14-year-old, whose dad introduced him to snowboarding when he was younger. Beute was diagnosed with leukemia two years ago.

"I felt honored, is the right way to describe it," Burton said. They kept things light. They talked more about school and snowboarding than their illnesses. Burton has had a clean bill of health for about two years since being treated for testicular cancer.

"You realize how much you can't take for granted," he said. "I learned so much about the human body. When your body goes into shock in certain situations because it has to — it was a longer-term version of that. I'm not special in that regard, at all. Your body deals and you deal."

They made some turns through the powder and took a hike into the side country. "I'm not sure if he got more out of it, or I did," Burton said. Beute will spend the rest of the week watching the 32nd version of the Burton U.S. Open, where more than 50 snowboarders who rode in the Sochi Olympics will compete.

Among them: Gold medalists Jamie Anderson (slopestyle) and Kaitlyn Farrington (halfpipe) and halfpipe bronze medalist Kelly Clark. Beute's favorite rider, Danny Davis, will be there, as well. Davis won the Winter X Games and was among those considered favorites to win a medal in Sochi. He had great runs going twice in the final but fell both times, shortly after the landings of his final jump.

He's one of many who will be looking for a strong showing to close the season and overcome a disappointment at the Olympics. "I think the riders will feel more in their comfort zone," Burton said. "They're all progressing. They've done the runs they needed to try to make the podium at the Olympics. I think it'll be easier to do them here."

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