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Ben's Bike Playground–November 25, 2020

Yesterday would have been Ben's 41st birthday.  Last year, with his typical shrug of generosity, Ben treated a large group of his friends to dinner at a local Chinese restaurant.  He was as happy as a king.  In that same spirit of giving a gift to others on his day, we're happy to announce Ben's Bike Playground, a trailhead bike park.

The bike playground was a dream of Ben's.  It will have jumps, balance lines and a pump track.  Check out the details and videos of similar bike parks here.   Like Ben did, the playground will make the bike trails more inclusive as it is designed to draw in families who come to recreate at the lakeside but don't know about the trails strewn out through the woods behind them.  I remember a summer that Ben walked around with arthritic wrist braces from practicing too many bike jumps at the local skate park–he will be smiling the day this park opens to the public.

Chugach Mountain Bike Riders, the local nonprofit for which Ben volunteered, has raised over $160,000 with a goal of $225,000.  If you’re able to chip in,  please do so here.  If you know of a business or a foundation that would like to be a part of Ben’s Bike Playground, please get in touch.  Whether you pitch in or not, come ride the trails.  Ben is everywhere on them, winter and summer, rain, snow and sunshine.  

And bring some kids with you!

Show your love and support for Ben.

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United Methodist Church of Chugiak–November 8, 2020

I hope this finds all of you well.  For those who donated funds in memory of Ben to the United Methodist Church of Chugiak, Nicki would like to let you know how they were gifted forward.  Each donation was made with the intent of helping kids, especially to get outside.

The Eagle River Nature Center thanked Nicki as follows:

"On behalf of the staff and volunteers of the Eagle River Nature Center, I wish to extend my thanks to you for you generous contribution to the Eagle River Nature Center in memory of Ben Schneider.  Ben was a very special person who loved getting children out in nature and we will use this donation for that purpose."

Another substantial donation was made to the Chugach Children's Forest, a program through Alaska Geographic.  

"The Chugach Children's Forest introduces diverse, young Alaskans to their wild backyard. Despite the abundance of wild places in Alaska, many Alaskan youth have never ventured outside their local communities to explore Alaska’s vast expanse of public lands. The Chugach Children’s Forest empowers and enables Alaska youth to explore these wild places that are so close, yet so far.

We address the obstacles that prevent underrepresented youth from becoming engaged in the outdoors. We overcome these barriers to engagement and give Alaska youth what is thought of as an “Alaska experience” – full of outdoor adventure!"

The Sesame Workshop's letter of gratitude said:

"We know Muppets were a favorite of Ben's. He believed play was the best way to reach kids to improve their lives. At Sesame Workshop, we believe that too. We'll use this gift in honor of Ben Schneider's life of service to help kids everywhere grow smarter, stronger, and kinder."

Future Project:

There is also a large bike playground project dedicated to Ben in the works out at the Mirror Lake Trails which Ben helped build, maintain and where he taught children to find joy riding through the Alaskan woods.  Will Taygan, Ben's 2nd best friend (Nicki being his first), will be updating us as that moves forward.

Take care, all of you.  May we finish this rocky year out with the kindness, inclusion, deliberation, exuberance and playful attitude Ben lived daily.


June 28, 2020

This summer, Nicki and the kids have been able to carry Ben's ashes and his memory into some of the mountains that were dear to him.  I write so that as Ben becomes a part of the mountains in their changing seasons, those who wish to are able to commune with the part of him you hold, in the wildness that he loved.  

In Alaska, Nicki was able to spread a portion of Ben's ashes on the top of Bear Mountain, the peak overlooking their home in Chugiak and a frequent haunt of Ben's.  She began a rock cairn for him, to which friends and family have since been able to add.  If you would like to do the same, follow the trail up the mountain, staying left after summiting, to what he called the "Lunch Rocks".  Looking out from there towards the inlet, you are able to see his cairn at a natural point, a short distance away, jutting up slightly to your left.  Many of us have written a note on the rocks we carried up the mountain for Ben.

For the young, or just young at heart, a legacy geocache has been created near Ben's cairn.  Remember to bring a very small trinket to replace what you remove.  

If instead you find yourself in Idaho,  you can trace the Schneider family's steps up to Snowslide Lake, outside of McCall.  Take a dip in the lake as Ben has and would have done, and Nicki did to pay him tribute.  It was here Ben shared a piece of his youth with his own children in teaching them to fly fish.  You will see him everywhere. 

As  the pandemic continues to alter our lives, there are no further plans for a public celebration of life for this man we were all favored to know and continue to love.  There are a few more tributes by different parties in the works, so I will revisit caringbridge as needed, but again–thank you all for your magnanimity of heart.  Stay safe and be well as we carry this grief forward the rest of our own days, together.



Idaho Memorial Update—June 19, 2020

From Nicki and Bev to Idaho family and friends:
Hello All! We are watching the Covid-19 cases continue to climb in both Alaska and Idaho. As these rise, we are needing to adjust our plans to keep everyone safe in regards to Ben's Celebration of Life in Idaho. In order to keep the numbers smaller/safer, we are going to do a very small gathering limited to family members who are at lower Covid-19 risk in Boise this summer. We are planning additional smaller gatherings in the future as it becomes safer. We would love to be able to open it up to more family and friends at that time. If we are learning anything with the recent events in both our lives and the world at large, it is to be creative and flexible!! Thank you for your support throughout this process, it is deeply appreciated. We are hoping all remain safe and healthy. We are grateful for you.


June 6, 2020

I wanted to do a quick update so everyone was in the loop.  Nicki and the kids are heading to Idaho for a large chunk of the summer and because pandemic issues haven't settled, she is holding off on a celebration of life for Ben's Alaskan friends/family.  Ben really deserves the kind of party that can't be held right now, so we'll let you know when that is in the works.  

While in Idaho, she and the kids will have a small memorial for their Idaho family members whom they don't get to see often enough.

Tammy Vig was able to complete the Book of Ben and was willing to share the link with everyone. To view, click here. 

We miss you everyday Ben.


Address Update–April 23, 2020

Thanks for all the support, cards and well wishes.  Nicki asked that I update you with addresses.  Note: the Church is not yet open, so letters received here are being hand delivered to Nicki and the kids.  You may send them directly if you wish.

Nicki Schneider
PO Box 670143
Chugiak, AK 99567

Mark and Meg Schneider
1320 S. Arcadia St.
Boise, ID 83705

Scott and Bev Pressman
31517 Misty Mtn Circle
Eagle River, AK 99577

United Methodist Church of Chugiak
16430 Old Glenn Hwy
Chugiak, AK 99567


Memorial Fund Details–April 13, 2020

Nicki has asked that instead of flowers, donations be directed to a fund in memory of Ben.  It has been set up through their church, United Methodist Church of Chugiak.  Click the following link, select “Make a One Time Gift”, enter your info, then enter the amount into the “Ben Schneider Memorial Fund”. http://umcchugiak.org/giving/   

The fund charges no fees and the money will compile to be directed solely at Nicki’s discretion.  This allows her time to consider how to donate the monies in a way that best represents Ben's work of getting children and youth out into nature.  The recipient programs will include the project Ben was working on of creating a mountain bike skills course out at the Mirror Lake Singletrack, as well as a program that buses kids not otherwise exposed to the Eagle River Nature Center, out for field trips.

At this uncertain and isolating time, a service for Ben will be deferred until we can be together.  Simply put, as he gathered us in life, so too will we gather for him again.  Hopefully we can do so sometime this summer, pending Covid 19 directives.

If you are like us, we have been yearning to hear Ben's voice.  You can commune with us in seeing the world through his eyes at his blog:   https://movingtoak.blogspot.com

This will be my last post unless I have more information for you, so perhaps this summer.  If you choose to ‘Follow’ this site, you will be notified by email of any following posts.  

Thank you so much for being Ben's gift to his family during this terrible time.  They couldn't have done this as gracefully without your memories, encompassing love and enduring support.  As you come across stories and pictures of Ben, please continue to post in the Well Wishes section.  Your remembrances help fill this dark void with light.  Peace be with you.


Free— April 11, 2020

Today when the sun was at its highest, Ben took three last breaths and then took a step forward.  He passed in the arms of his wife and with his parents present virtually.  She left an origami crane in his hand and the doors open behind her as he flew away, free now.

At this time, if you'd like to reach out to his family, written condolences can be sent to his parents at:

Mark and Meg Schneider
1320 S. Arcadia St.
Boise, ID 83705

In lieu of flowers, we will be setting up a memorial fund in the next few days that does what Ben lived to do: get children outside, immersed in nature.  I will have details to you by Monday.  Thank you for holding this family in your hearts for these two months.