My name is Amber-Lee Dibble, you know me as many things but most often as Alaska Chick. I have worked for Terry Overly and Pioneer Outfitters for more than 20 years. I am a US Navy Veteran and a Professional Alaska Guide. I want to take this opportunity to ask you to participate in a fundraising campaign that is very dear to all of us at Pioneer Outfitters: Stand for the Man in Black. The Alaska Bush Plane is essential to our survival and to the survival of a way of life and community safety.
This campaign is important to all of us for many reasons, but most importantly because it represents standing up to help a man who has never hesitated to stand up to help others.
In September 2013, the airplane that was the lifeblood of Pioneer Outfitters, and of the community of Chisana that we call home, was destroyed in a fire. This not only left us stranded in the mountains that have been Pioneer Outfitters’ home for 90 years, but it left Terry – sometimes called the Youngest Old-Timer in Alaska – with half a heart.
Chisana was the site of America’s last gold rush, and was at one time the largest log cabin settlement in Alaska. The history and the spirit of Alaska’s wilderness are on full display here. There are gifts in Chisana that the whole world craves. We are located deep inside the Wrangell Mountains and the Wrangell St. Elias National Park and Preserve – America’s largest National Park – and we are accessible only by aircraft.
Chisana is surrounded by wilderness and space, untouched by commercial tourism; the majestic mountains loom over us and surround us; there are more glaciers than can be counted and which redefine every human concept of size or scale; our neighbors are wild flora and fauna of every shape and size. All of it is free. All of this is what we call home.
This remoteness, beautiful as it is, has left us fully dependent on others for our own survival. We must now pay commercial freight rates to have food, fuel, and supplies delivered to us. Our range horses and livestock wander far into the surroundings and are constantly at risk.
Terry has been my employer, my mentor, and my friend for more than 20 years. He has been a father figure when I have needed it, and a when I have had questions about life’s most puzzling questions, I have gone first to Terry.
When you Stand for the Man in Black, you are standing not just for Terry or Pioneer Outfitters. There is more to this campaign than an Alaska Bush Plane being able to fly horse feed, groceries, or fuel into our community, or to mounting rescue operations if the need arises. This venture allows us to offer guests and clients the comfort and safety of an airplane in the wilderness. It allows us to support our friends and neighbors to find lost horses, lost dogs, or lost hikers. It allows us to transport the sick to receive medical care, to rescue people from floods, and to aid injured hunters. That is, after all, what being a part of this community is all about.
This campaign – this ask – is something Terry would never do for himself. He would and has given of himself to so many causes and people in the years that I have known him, and yet has never asked for so much as a stick of gum.
I believe you will care because I believe in YOU. The friendships I have been offered; the helping hands; the wisdom, advice, and guidance; the beautiful kindness of the world that I have been shown since becoming part of the social mediaverse have all touched my heart and changed me. Your help can make this dream come true. Please help me Stand for the Man in Black.
We have launched a fundraiser on Indiegogo.com. All contributors, at any level, will have their names carved into a new centerpiece log that will be installed in the new Shushanna Room upon its completion, as a permanent tribute to all who help. Donors at certain levels will receive perks through the Indiegogo site.
We know that not everyone can contribute financially. If you would like to help in some other way, please reach out to me, and please share our fundraiser and the desperate need for the Alaska Bush Plane to be replaced or this letter with your own friends and neighbors.