SUNY Plattsburgh Alumnus' Backpack Goes Into L.L. Bean History
Steven Gadecki spends his day putting others in the spotlight. The ’00 SUNY Plattsburgh communication grad lives in Los Angeles where he works as the director of digital marketing for SONY Pictures Television, promoting shows like “Breaking Bad,” “Unforgettable” and “Rules of Engagement.”
But today, the spotlight is on him, all thanks to a backpack that accompanied him through his journey at SUNY Plattsburgh and beyond.
‘To Simply Toss it Away Felt Too Final’
When it came time to throw away the L.L. Bean backpack that had followed him the past 15 years, Gadecki was compelled to write a letter to the company.
“To simply toss it away felt too final, so I sat down and wrote a letter of all my memories and sent it back to L.L. Bean,” he said.
The L.L. Bean backpack Gadecki’s mother had given him when he started college not only carried his books to class; it also carried his essentials through 14 national parks and up 104 mountains with more than 30 of those peaks belonging to the Adirondacks.
L.L. Bean is now honoring those milestones by featuring Gadecki in the company’s 100-year anniversary campaign, which will be shown in print, TV and online nationwide. The company even took him up to Sequoia National Park, where they interviewed him and filmed him hiking.
‘I Had a Goal and I Focused On It’
For Gadecki, the backpack meant more to him than a tangible connection to his mountainous memories. Growing up in Binghamton, N.Y., he often used public transportation, taking the bus to and from his classes at Broome Community College.
“It was on the bus that I really came to the realization that the past can stay here; I can move to another stage in my life.”
He went with friends to go see the band Phish in Plattsburgh, and that’s where he saw his future.
“While we were there, we drove through the Adirondacks; it just locked in for me. This is where I was going to transfer. I came back; I had direction; I had a goal; and I focused on it.
He was accepted into SUNY Plattsburgh through the Educational Opportunity Program. He still didn’t have a car, but, when he wasn’t focusing on his grades and his creative pursuits, Gadecki took full advantage of weekend hiking trips offered through the Student Association.
“Gaining access to some of my most beloved hiking ground with the college’s help really broadened my scope on patience and balance — something that I’ve been able to take into my professional life.”
Backpack Stored in the Archives with the Founder’s Boots
After graduating, he spent the year with AmeriCorps working at the Traumatic Brain Injury Center and then moved to California to begin his next chapter.
Years later, he came across that backpack, worn, but still sturdy, with flecks of fluorescent yellow starting to appear beneath the black marker he had used in an attempt to look less like a bumblebee, he said.
Today, the bag sits in the L.L. Bean archives, right alongside founder Leon Leonwood Bean’s boots.
“It’s unbelievable because I had no idea that any of this would happen,” Gadecki said.