Speaks to WHS students: Make right choices

Friday, November 8, 2019
Tom Gilles

“Mountains are a lot like dreams-many will just sit back and stare, but for those who are willing to charge up the mountain, I guarantee, the view is worth it!”-Tom Gilles.

The Cherokee WHS student body had the opportunity recently to listen to Tom Gilles, former Professional snowboarder who has appeared in extreme sports movies, television and is a world-record holder.  

Gilles grew up and went to school  in Wisconsin. Tom talked to the students about how he was the class clown when he was in school. The reality was that Tom was diagnosed with Dyslexia and learning and reading was very difficult for him. Even in high school, Tom dreamed of becoming a professional snowboarder. He talked to the students about, “pushing past the haters” and how “your choices are going to affect your future.” He always believed in it and held himself accountable. 

His dream became a reality when he followed his dream to Lake Tahoe. There he met a cinematographer and ended up in the biggest snowboard movie of the year. There he set a new world record and his dream took off! He talked to the audience about the feelings he held that day, how his heart rate got up to 230 beats per minute, how he agonized about how a terrible fall would leave him with horrible consequences, even death,  and how he had to listen to his inner voice tell him, “I got this!” 

He flew to Japan for another engagement and talked about how he had time on the plane to think about his life and the fact that, “Sometimes you are your own worst enemy.” He ended up spending the day with his buddies in five feet of fresh powder and talked about how they all felt virtually invincible. He had the time of his life, but his life was changed forever when his friend and fellow professional snowboarder, Jeff Anderson, made a terrible mistake that cost him his life, when he decided to slide down a banister, four stories high, and fell to his death. Tom said that after that fateful day, his life spun out of control and he saw himself in that moment.

When he got back to the states, he pursued his plan to go to California and seek out the producers of the reality show, who promised him the fame and fortune he deserved. Unfortunately he received some really bad news. They had decided that they had no way of promoting the show and ended up shelving it. Nobody would see the world record he achieved. Tom explained to the students how devastated he was, but instead of yelling at them, he talked about the power of responding well. 

Tom wrapped up his presentation talking to the students about the importance of having someone to talk to and confide in. He said, “You get to choose your attitude, dreams, and team and your teachers are your dream makers.” Tom handed out cards to the students where they could fill in their names and any comments they would like to make about the importance of being drug and alcohol free and no vaping. The students received information where they can chat with a “soulmedic” by texting or contacting via phone or email. 

Thank you, Tom Gilles, for talking to our student body about the importance of listening to your inner voice, making good choices, and following your dreams. Thanks also to SportsWorld and Tyson Foods, for giving us the opportunity to listen to this inspirational presentation. 

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: