Toby Dawson, a U.S. freestyle skier, wasn't always known by that name. Born in South Korea, Toby was adopted when he was 3 years old by American ski instructors, Mike and Deborah Dawson.
"My family told me that I was deposited off at a police station, and I was put in an orphanage," Toby says. "I never thought about finding my biological parents. I figured that they both had probably passed away...or at least that's the little story I played in my own mind, not to feel so hurt and feel abandoned."
Toby and his younger brother, who was also adopted from South Korea, grew up in Vail, Colorado, a resort town where very few people looked like them. Toby says feeling like an outsider was especially painful.
The ski slopes were the one place Toby could escape his insecurities. "When I would put on my ski gear, it was like putting on a mask," he says. "I would transform into this different person and have all the confidence in the world. It's just like a superhero. When you shed off all of my ski clothes, I became that quiet, shy kid again."
That quiet kid grew into a fierce competitor on the slopes. Toby won more than a dozen international competitions before landing the biggest prize of them all: a spot on the U.S. 2006 Olympic team!