Gary Young is not your average man. At 68-years-old he has accomplished what might take others several lifetimes to achieve. He is the modern-day father and pioneer of the essentials oils movement, and is the founder of Young Living Essential Oils, a company he started 25 years ago.
Young Living has grown from a small mom-and-pop farm to become the world leader in pure essential oils, with a global footprint and farms all over the world. Over several decades, Gary has been a trailblazer in natural wellness and continues to epitomize the cowboy spirit he was born with. He is much more likely to be found on a tractor working the fields on one of his many farms or helping to repair disaster-torn villages alongside locals in Nepal than in a corporate office setting.
As a boy, Gary loved Jack London books, particularly the parts that included the great mystique of dog sledding in Alaska.
His introduction to dog sledding was in the early 70’s, when he bought an old dog sled as a fun activity to help his children connect to the land and their roots. That positive experience stuck with Gary.
Gary got an opportunity to get closer to the sport a little over five years ago when Young Living began sponsoring Mitch Seavey’s dog teams. After being introduced to Mitch Seavey through the D. Gary Young Foundation, and the two connected immediately. Gary began working with Mitch, both speaking on perseverance and the motivation it takes to be successful; those two traits are central to the way Gary lives his life.
During Christmas of 2016, Gary was reflecting on some health challenges he was facing and was looking for a new way to express his joy to be alive and to put his body and mind to the test. He decided he wanted to compete in his first true dog sledding race. He thought, at 67, he might be too old though. So, he called Mitch and asked him what he thought. Mitch assured Gary that, if this is something he genuinely wanted to do, then he believed he was capable.
A few weeks later, on January 8th, 2017, Gary was in Sterling with the Seavey family, preparing to start his first training runs with a dog team he had never met, doing a dangerous sport he had barely invested any time into. During that trip, he did two 10-mile runs and one 20-mile run and went home. The next time Gary and Mitch spoke, Mitch confidently said, “Gary, I believe you were born to mush.”
Gary began to gather what he would need for his first run. The Tustumena 200, a 200-mile run on the Kenai Peninsula, was only a few days away. So, Gary brought 8 dogs down to his ranch in Utah and rented a sled from a friend. To help prepare for the race, Gary made 5 runs with his newly minted dog team and utilized essential oils from Young Living’s Animal Scents to Care Collection. Then it was time to head back to Alaska and run the race. “I didn’t come in first and I didn’t come in last, but I never dropped a dog in the race,” Gary says. “People were really impressed with the fact that I completed the race alone, not to mention with my whole dog team intact. I was told the seasoned mushers were all putting bets that I wouldn’t make it to the first checkpoint, given the fact that (I had) only seven runs with a dog team (and that) doesn’t constitute being qualified to run a race. But, here we are.”
Gary also signed up to run the Willow 300 - a 300-mile race in Willow - just a week later. Running the two races back to back was a huge challenge. To everyone’s surprise, he completed that race and managed to keep his original dog team intact all the way to the finish. Gary had wanted to race in this past Iditarod, but he’s currently dealing with some health issues. As mushing has because an increased passion, he followed the race closely and was cheering the mushers and their dogs on throughout the 2018 race.
In addition to raising awareness for the Foundation’s efforts in Nepal, Gary hoped that competing in and finishing these races would set an example for his children that they can accomplish anything they set their minds to, regardless of the obstacles that may stand in their way. He also hoped that his example would encourage Young Living members to set new and higher goals in the areas of wellness, purpose, and abundance and have the courage to go out and achieve those goals.
Gary D. Young is a person who makes a goal and doesn’t stop until it has been accomplished. In his mind, anything is possible if you put the work and sacrifice in. “I just want to show people no matter how old you are, and no matter what kind of health you have, you can accomplish your dreams if you want. It’s a matter of choice.”
This article was brought to you by Young Living Essential Oils.