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Editor's note: This blog is part of our Father's Day 2013 tribute series, acknowledging the men in our LiveWell Moms' lives. First up, A.J.'s father.

If I can grow up to be half as cool as my Dad, I’ll consider it a win. And I’m not just saying that because he’s my Dad; it’s because he’s the most selfless person I know. Let’s start at the beginning – which was before my beginning…

Dad grew up outside of Chicago but his love for the outdoors always tugged at him. He had some pretty heavy family obligations as a young man, as the oldest son when he lost his father, but he eventually started a family of his own and still, the mountains called to him. So several camping trips and a long road trip later (I still remember the drive in our 1980-something Toyota Tercel hatchback), we landed in Crested Butte, Colo.

If you haven’t been there, Crested Butte is a mecca of all things awesome. It’s also my hometown and where my part of this story really begins. These were the days when kids played outside until sunset – when riding bikes, catching snakes and building forts was just another day. My parents both worked really hard and my brother and I occupied ourselves wherever the trails and dirt roads would take us.

Weekends were filled with hikes, cookouts and camping trips in the summer and skiing and building snow caves in the winter. A typical Christmas went something like this: wake up, Santa came!, send dog to wake up parents, open presents, ski all day with Dad while Mom cooked dinner (and now that I’m a mom, I realize what really went on while we were out of the house all day). A typical summer day involved hiking, picking wildflowers and daring each other to put our bare feet in the high mountain runoff.

When we got older, Dad would take us to Utah where we went biking, rock climbing, exploring and learned about new plants, bugs and cryptobiotic soil. He and my brother climbed ice together. He and I have run some crazy rapids. Well into my adulthood, the health and fitness of our family was sewn into the fabric of our lifestyle. I’m convinced it’s in our blood.

Every amazing memory I have with my Dad involves fresh air, great food, an epic backdrop and some kind of new lesson. And what continues to inspire me is that most people who know him would say the same thing about him. He shares this gift like it’s his job—wait, it is his job; he’s an instructor for the Colorado Outward Bound School, teaching dozens of students through the wilderness each year. He also guides raft expeditions in China on what remains of the Yangtze River, teaches corporate teambuilding in Los Angeles, taught me how to blacksmith, has nicknames in four different languages (that I know of) and makes the meanest tortilla soup this side of somewhere. And about a week ago, he told me he’s training for a November half-marathon. Because he can.

This story closes – but certainly doesn’t end – with a huge nod to what an outstanding grandpa he is. As I strive to give my daughter the same active, healthy childhood my parents gave me, my Dad supports us in our adventures and loves that kid more than anything. And if I’m never as awesome as he is, I’ll always strive to share the legacy he forged. 

AJ is admittedly “that mom” who doesn’t bring cupcakes to school when it’s her 3-year-old’s birthday. Follow her on Twitter

Photo: A.J. and her dad on the river