A sotry of courage

Local author Rick Stieber tells the story of blind athlete Rachael Scdoris

by: CONTRIBUTED PHOTOGRAPH - Rick Steber is shown with some of the books he's written, including

Modern day mountain man Rick Steber has done it again. Rick has delved into the life of an Oregonian and has created a work of art. Rick depicts the life of Rachael Scdoris and tells of the trials she has faced in her life. 'No End in Sight' tells of the heartbreaks, the courage and the determination of this young woman.
   After battling with the Iditarod council for two years, Rachael has finally gotten the go ahead. In March 2005, she will be able to race her dog sled team in the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in Alaska. This 1,100-mile race is no easy feat for anyone, let alone a 20-year-old blind woman.
   Rick, who is well known for his tales of the Old West, steps completely out of his old west style. With 'No End in Sight', Rick captures exactly what it is like to be a teenage blind girl living on the high desert of central Oregon. A girl who wants with all her heart to race sled dogs. He weaves a tale that captures the reader instantly. He pulls the reader into the school hall where boys are taunting Rachael. The reader can almost feel the chill of the icy wind as Rachael's dogs make a wrong turn and then feel the victory she felt when she finally learned she would be allowed to race in the Iditarod.
   "I think Rick is an amazing person. He is one of the great American writers. An undiscovered great writer, who I'm sure in his lifetime will be discovered. People who know his work love it. He's done it his way and his ethics reflect in his writing. He is one of Oregon's treasures," said Jerry Scdoris, Rachel's father.
   Rick started writing seriously in 1973. He knew he wanted to make a living at writing. He also knew it wasn't going to be easy. His dad thought he was crazy.
   "I told my dad I was going to give myself two years to become a writer. I thought I could do it in two years. I really had no grasp of reality. I remember him going, 'You're kicking a good job in the butt?' He just couldn't understand," said Rick, memories of a father he lost still fresh in his mind.
   At the time, Rick was the senior administrative assistant to the mayor of Portland. He gave up that very career to follow his dream. It was a gamble, but he was ready to risk it.
   Rick saddled his horse, threw on his cowboy boots and headed for town after town. Stopping at every newspaper along the way, Rick, the modern day mountain man, was peddling his wares. Instead of furs, his wares just happened to be Old West stories about real life people, some of which were old time mountain men.
   During his trip, his horse fell and Rick had to replace his cowboy boots with tennis shoes and lead his horse the last 250 miles. By the end of three weeks, he had made it onto the front page of the Statesman Journal newspaper out of Salem. The caption under the picture read "Rick Steber, Tennis Shoe Cowboy". By the end of his journey, 54 Oregon papers agreed to publish his column weekly. It would prove to be the beginning of an adventurous career.
   Rick has spent much of his life interviewing people. People like J.K. Carper, the man from eastern Oregon who had 17 kids and killed the last grizzly bear in this state.
   Rick spent 15 years tracking down people who had come to Oregon by covered wagon. Although he figured there would not be many still living, he actually found 40 different people who had made the famous journey. One had gotten kicked by a horse and an Indian woman made a poltice and put it on his face to help the swelling go down.
   There are many, many amazing stories Rick has uncovered as he spends time with people across the West. He takes the time to peel back the layers of each person he interviews, until the very heart and soul of that person is revealed.
   "That's where the story is," said Rick.
   His book 'Buckaroo Heart' is a perfect example. In the beginning he thought he would write a story about Herman Vowell, a young buckaroo. He ended up writing a love story about Herman Vowell and his wife Betty.
   With 'No End in Sight' Rick was familiar with the story since it began. He has know Rachael since she was born. In the beginning he was hesitant about doing the story, then he realized if he didn't write it someone who didn't know Rachael might.
   "Rachael was delighted with how it turned out," said her father.
   Rick will continue to write about people of the Northwest, people who catch his eye, bend his ear and tug at his heart. He longs for more time to just write, but business needs to be done as well. From time to time however, Rick steals away to his cabin where he just writes. He writes about all the details he has stored away inside his mind.
   "I'm kind of like the little kid who on the way to school he was always late because he stops to jump in the mud puddle. Or he gets sidetracked watching the birds or whatever," said Rick. "But as a writer you need to be an observer, whatever it is, be it a sight, a sound, a smell or a feeling."
   Yes, Rick Steber is an observer. He is a writer whose passion for life is reflected in the words woven through the pages of each story he writes.
   Rick took a gamble more than 30 years ago and that gamble has paid off. For more information about Rick or to order any of his books go to www.ricksteber.com.
   For more information about Rachael go to www.rachaelscdoris.com