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Snowboarding Dreams Take African From The Tetons To Uganda

Jennifer Tennican

A new film follows the journey of a snowboarder Brolin Mawejje, on his quest to become the first African Olympic snowboarder. He was born in Uganda and only saw snow for the first time when he came to the U.S. at age 12. He eventually moved to Jackson Hole with a family that took him in as one of their own. Part of what sealed the bond with his adoptive family was a love of snowboarding, which he shared with their son, Phil Hessler.

"You know when we moved to Jackson, we immediately joined the free-ride team here coached under Jeff Moran, began competing all through the Intermountain series and then doing bigger and bigger competitions from there,” said Hessler. "Brolin was able to embed himself in an extremely high level of snowboard community here in Jackson. That really fostered his growth, and all of our growth into the snowboarders we are today."

Hessler became the film's producer. He says the film follows Mawejje as he returns to Uganda, in part to pursue a dream of snowboarding for Uganda in the 2018 Winter Olympics.

"And I was blown away by the support that came around Brolin's mission. I mean we met with the general of the Ugandan Army. Brolin was on almost every TV station in Uganda, on the front page of the newspaper. People were really excited about him snowboarding and being a winter Olympian. There's never been an African country that has had anyone snowboard in the Olympics."

The film, "Far from Home," will be shown in Jackson tonight. You can see a film trailer online at farfromhomemovie.com.

A multi-media journalist, Rebecca Huntington is a regular contributor to Wyoming Public Radio. She has reported on a variety of topics ranging from the National Parks, wildlife, environment, health care, education and business. She recently co-wrote the one-hour, high-definition documentary, The Stagecoach Bar: An American Crossroads, which premiered in 2012. She also works at another hub for community interactions, the Teton County Library where she is a Communications and Digital Media Specialist. She reported for daily and weekly newspapers in Montana, Idaho, Washington, Oregon and Wyoming for more than a decade before becoming a multi-media journalist. She completed a Ted Scripps Fellowship in Environmental Journalism at the University of Colorado in 2002. She has written and produced video news stories for the PBS series This American Land (thisamericanland.org) and for Assignment Earth, broadcast on Yahoo! News and NBC affiliates. In 2009, she traveled to Guatemala to produce a series of videos on sustainable agriculture, tourism and forestry and to Peru to report on the impacts of extractive industries on local communities.
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