Beyond Tragedy: A Legacy Continues

Published 2023

For Johnny and Audrey Rider and their two children, snowmobiling is more than just a fun family hobby, it’s an opportunity to develop future leaders.
In 2016, while attending the International Snowmobile Congress, the Riders, long-time members of the South Dakota Snowmobile Association (SDSA) met a youth snowmobiling club from Michigan. Known as the KAOS Kids, these young snowmobilers inspired Johnny and Audrey.
“They were impressive young leaders,” said Audrey. “They presented to the entire Congress on safety and mentorship and how being a member of the KAOS Kids positively impacted their life. This was an opportunity we wanted for South Dakota’s young snowmobilers as well.”
The couple worked with Jon LaFramboise, President of the SDSA to launch the YETIS program – Youth Empowerment through Involvement in Snowmobiling as part of the SDSA. The program combines passion for snowmobiling with practical leadership training, including presentation skills, parliamentary procedure, and safety training. Mentorship of younger riders is also a cornerstone of the program. YETIS participants even network with members of the legislature during the annual Governor’s Ride.
“With Jon’s support and leadership, the program expanded across the state and grew to include an ex-officio YETIS member on the SDSA board,” said Audrey. “It was our YETIS board member who inspired our shift to virtual safety training. They bring a new perspective and understand how best to sustain the organization for the next generation.”

Tragically, Jon LaFramboise lost his life in an avalanche on March 12, 2022, while snowmobiling in the Sierra Madre mountains. “It was such a loss to our South Dakota snowmobiling family,” said Audrey. “Jon had done so much, particularly for our YETIS participants, we had to continue his legacy.”
In consultation with Jon’s wife Sheridan, the Riders created the Jon LaFramboise YETIS Scholarship at the Watertown Area Community Foundation. The fund will award an annual scholarship to a graduating student involved in the YETIS program. The fund has received numerous gifts in honor of Jon and continues to grow as word spreads through regular SDSA member publications.
“We are grateful that Jon’s passion and commitment to youth snowmobilers continues with the YETIS Scholarship Fund,” said Audrey. “He loved snowmobiling and I know he would be proud that children who also share this passion for the sport will have additional opportunities because of this scholarship fund.”

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