Rally for Rasta Stevie: Tahoe community comes together to support self-described ski bum, emcee
KNOW & GO
WHAT: Squaw Valley Rally for Rasta Stevie
WHO: Live performances by Soul Medic, K-Rizz, and Anthony Postman
WHEN: 7-10 p.m. Friday, March 22
WHERE: Auld Dubliner Irish Pub & Restaurant, 1850 Village South Rd #41, Olympic Valley
WHY: A $10 donation at the door will go to help support Rasta Stevie Smith’s cancer treatment costs.
INFO: aulddublinertahoe.com/events or 530-584-6041
The reggae music could be easily heard by the lineup of surfers waiting for the first set of decent waves off a remote beach in Costa Rica.
Sitting on his board, Danny Hoy didn’t think he had a shot at winning the small competition against a talented group of local surfers. Then, the music blaring from the beach was cut and the voice of a dreadlock-wearing DJ popped over the speaker.
“A surfer is only as good as the wave he’s riding on,” ski and reggae icon “Rasta” Stevie Smith bellowed into the microphone.
“And then in my horrible Spanish,” Smith later recalled. “I said, ‘Please Jah, send us the waves.’”
The waves showed and Hoy picked off the best of the set, riding it all the way to the beach for first place in the competition.
Many years later, after hearing Smith was diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma, a type of cancer, Hoy jumped at the chance to help out his longtime friend.
“I don’t know anything about throwing a fundraiser, but we’re throwing this guy a fundraiser,” said Hoy, who now lives in Tahoe. “We’re going to make it happen, it’s going to be awesome.”
On Friday, March 22, Auld Dubliner Irish Pub & Restaurant in Squaw Valley will host a benefit for Smith, called the Squaw Valley Rally for Rasta Stevie.
The event, which runs from 7 p.m. to close., will feature live performances by Soul Medic, K-Rizz, and Anthony Postman. DJ WhiteBoyHoy, DJ Treez, and M.C. Rasta Stevie’s Heartbeat of Zion will also be kicking out the jams. A $10 donation at the door will go to help support Smith’s cancer treatment costs. There will also be a raffle and silent auction, which will include a day on the slopes with Jamaican Olympic skier Errol Kerr, and more.
“Everybody that I ran into in Squaw donated some really cool raffle items,” said Hoy. “We’re so blown away by all the support. Serendipity and coincidences have been happening left and right since we started this thing. It makes me know he’ll be healed. Rasta Stevie is a real Rastaman. He’s all about being a good person and teaching people to be good people. He’s a hugely positive influence on all the spheres of people I’ve seen him around. This guy is a force of nature.”
‘Blizzard of Aahhh’s’
Smith, or “Rasta Stevie” as he’s known, gained fame in the 1988 ski film “Blizzard of Aahhh’s.”
The Greg Stump film featured the relatively unknown sport of extreme skiing at Squaw Valley, Telluride, Colorado, and Chamonix, France, and highlighted star skiers Scot Schmidt, Glen Plake, and Mike Hattrup. The film also showed Smith, who served on Telluride’s town council at the time, giving his thoughts on the development of ski towns — words that for many, proved all too true for areas with resorts.
“We’re a mining town that was founded by hardcore miners,” said Smith in the film. “We’re not a posh place for people to come and buy fur coats and dilly-dally in fancy restaurants. This a skier’s mountain and a skier’s town.”
A follower of Rastafarianism, Smith is a self-described dirtbag ski bum, who took a job washing dishes in Telluride to support his ski habits after graduating college. Traveling from mountain to mountain with fellow skiers in search of powder and good times, Smith said he’d often find ways of getting on the slopes by clipping passes from those who were finished skiing or by trading weed to get up on the hill.
“Nobody was doing this for fame or fortune, it was just a way to get a ski pass,” said Smith. “(Stump and his film crew would) roll up at Alta and tell them we’re filming and they’d give us passes and a condo, and we’d just rage and ski all their powder.”
Smith later went on to start a family, and became a prominent figure in the reggae scene, performing as an emcee at various festivals.
‘the greatest blessing’
In February 2018, Smith began having trouble swallowing and noticed he had swollen lymph nodes in his neck. A few months later, he was diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma caused by human papillomavirus.
Doctors told Smith he’d have to have surgery, and then undergo radiation and chemotherapy treatments, but he refused. Instead, Smith sought treatment during the past year through a laundry list of methods that range from several changes in diet and exercise habits to holistic approaches like acupuncture and Kundalini healing.
“I’ve tried everything,” said Smith. “I’ve been to so many healers. Things were working well, because I’ve never been sick … I stayed on my protocol. I was super diligent, and so my cancer wasn’t growing, but it wasn’t shrinking.”
Smith said his situation worsened in January and he began to give in to the idea of modern medical treatments. But after doctors told him he’d have to undergo high-dose radiation and chemotherapy that would shut down his thyroid and put him on hormone therapy — along with other potentially lifelong negative side effects — he again refused.
Smith then discovered the Forsythe Cancer Care Center in Reno, a facility that specializes in a combination of conventional and complementary therapies for cancer.
“I’m an alternative medicine guy, and this treatment center I’m going to here in Reno is the marriage of alternative and Western (medicine),” he said.
“I’ve let go of all my belief systems because my life is the most important thing. Jah gave me life and I realize now that life is the greatest blessing, and a belief system is just a belief system.”
The only problem with beginning treatment at the clinic was the roughly $60,000 cost. Smith was reluctant to reach out for help at first, but after speaking with friends, decided to go public with his fight against cancer. With help, he set up a GoFundMe account, which has raised more than $27,000 since Feb. 21.
The amount of money raised and support he’s received from those in the ski and music industry wasn’t something Smith said he was comfortable with initially, but over time he’s come to accept the financial assistance.
“There comes a time when self care needs to become the order of the day,” said Smith. “I’m such a community-minded person that, to make that shift for me, has been a real journey.
“I tell everyone all the time this whole cancer thing has been awesome. It’s the greatest blessing I’ve ever drawn to myself in my life. The cancer sucks, but everything else around this has been so transformational, just the art of receivership and accepting the support from so many random sources.”
To donate to Smith’s GoFundMe campaign, visit Gofundme.com/rasta-stevie039s-cancer-treatment-fund.