There’s really no escaping a name like “DuPont.” It’s a title with industrial weight, and it all goes back to firepower—gunpowder, to be exact. In 1802, shortly after the French Revolution, Éleuthère Irénée du Pont left France for America, where he began manufacturing gunpowder in Delaware. By the American Civil War, du Pont was supplying half the powder used by the Union Army. Over the years his company moved on to automobiles, material sciences, chemicals, agriculture and nearly everything else.
But in the beginning, it was all about fire.
Fast-forward two centuries, eight generations and 2,400 miles west and you’ll arrive in Sun Valley, ID, where you’ll find another du Pont. I’ve known Lexi—officially “Alexis”—and her family for the better part of 20 years, both as a teacher and friend. I remember elementary-school Lexi, tiny and wild-haired and chasing the bigger kids around the hill. I remember middle-school Lexi, still small in stature but extra-large in spirit, setting her alarm at criminally early hours so she could ski in criminally cold temperatures. And I remember high-school Lexi, working hard at school and skiing and finding her way in the world.
While the 28-year-old Lexi has changed over that time, some things have remained constant: Her immovable drive and her commitment to social justice. Maybe it’s being the middle child and having to prove herself. Maybe it’s the work ethic and compassion instilled by her parents in all three du Pont girls. Or maybe it’s the fact that—whether it’s skiing big-mountain lines in Alaska, flying planes, or teaching girls to ski in Kyrgyzstan—for Lexi, the biggest type of failure is not trying…