I have to admit: I always thought the men Cosmopolitan magazine chooses for its annual Most Eligible Bachelor contest were cheeseballs. Every year, fifty eligible bachelors (one from each state) pose shirtless in the mag, next to a brief description and quote, in the hopes of being crowned the Most Eligible Bachelor. But Brad Ludden (pictured; photo courtesy of Cosmopolitan) is not a cheeseball. He's actually a really nice, sweet, down-to-earth everyday guy from Gypsum whose friend nominated him for the contest without his knowledge.
"It was interesting," he says. "First they chose me to be Colorado's bachelor -- I have no idea how or why -- called me up and told me. I didn't know I was nominated, so the whole thing was a bit of a surprise. It was pretty humorous; I didn't believe them at first, but they finally managed to convince me." He flew out to L.A., where they took "that awful photo" (shucks, Brad, we think you look pretty good) and then to New York for promotions and a big party, where he was crowned the Bachelor of 2008.
And personally, I don't think Cosmo could have picked a better candidate. Ludden founded and runs the non-profit organization First Descents, which runs week-long adventure programs for young adults living with cancer. "I was really fortunate with all the kayaking I'd done, and I realized how powerful of a tool kayaking can be for people," Ludden explains. "My aunt was diagnosed with breast cancer when I was twelve, and I started volunteering with my mom at this local pediatric oncology camp." When Ludden saw how much the kids enjoyed learning to kayak, he founded First Descents.
"It's grown into outdoor adventure programs, expanded out of kayaking into mountaineering," he says. "We spend a week using some sort of an outdoor challenge, either mountaineering or kayaking, to kind of give these guys their identity back, give them a support group, introduce them to other people going through what they're going through and give them their strength back -- the awareness that they're not broken or fragile, that they can do anything."
Wow -- good-looking and socially conscious. What's not to like?
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Want to spend a day skiing with Ludden and U.S. Ski Team all-stars Mike Friedberg and Ryan Sutter? (Yes, that Ryan Sutter -- the one who was chosen by and is now happily married to The Bachelorette's Trista Rehn, and who's also a close friend of Ludden's.) Head to the First Descents website or call the office at 1-970-845-1410 by the end of the day on Sunday and donate some cash. The person who donates the most will win a "Bachelor" ski day in Vail with all three men.
I had to ask: If a guy donates the most money, will he still be eligible for the "Bachelor" ski day? "Oh, hell yeah, just a guy's day skiing," says Ludden. "Ryan and I are pretty proficient; we have fun. But Mike's the real skier -- he's just an insanely good skier. So we brought him along in case some guy wins it and wants to go crazy on skis."
And if a girl wins? "We'll probably hold the door and be nice and buy her a drink," Ludden says. Not to mention she'll get to spend all day skiing with two actual bachelors and one "bachelor." -- Amber Taufen