A letter from an Athlete | Jay Rawe
Letters From an Athlete is a series that focuses on showcasing some of our Athletes, who are proud to represent and be supported by High Fives. It’s also a chance for us to show off how appreciative the Foundation is to continue to support these individuals as they chase dreams, complete goals, and inspire others.
High Fives is very lucky to be able to support Jay Rawe, watching Jay Rawe put his mind to the lofty goals he has set for himself is something that has inspired the foundation to be more like Jay.
The young man hailing from Bradenton, Florida was an avid and extremely talented base jumper , who unfortunately fell off a bridge while attempting an extremely difficult jump.
After learning of his partial paralysis, Rawe took no time to feel sorry for himself, he instead looked forward to the future and how he was going to continue to live life the way that he wanted to.
Rawe discovered a love for sit skiing and watching him visualize a new trick and then take it to snow is absolutely incredible. He has quickly become one of the best sit skiers in the world. We look forward to see how he will continue to represent the Foundation by pushing himself on and off snow.
A Letter From Jay
My name is Jay Rawe. In 2014 I was BASE jumping the Perrine Bridge in Twin Falls, Idaho with a buddy of mine when things went terribly wrong. I was standing on his shoulders attempting to make a complicated jump. When he leaned forward to fall off the bridge, I lost my balance and tried to jump back to the bridge. I missed, bouncing off of the handrail, pulling out his parachute while falling, and landing inside of it after it opened. We spiraled 486 feet to the edge of the water below and impacted. When I came to, my friends were holding me still, telling me not to move and that help was on the way. After a short boat and ambulance ride, I was in the hospital and on the exam table. The doctor told me that I had broken my back and needed to go into surgery immediately. I remember calmly thinking that everything would be fine and I would be back to 100% in no time. I soon found out how wrong I was about that.
I had burst fractured my L1 vertebrae and crushed my spinal cord, resulting in peripheral nerve damage to my L5 nerve group, which controls a big portion of lower body movement. I spent the next 8 days in the ICU in Idaho before flying to Tampa General Hospital in Florida to be near my family and begin PT. Since I had not severed my spinal cord, the doctors told me that I might walk again. They also told me that there’s a good chance I would never regain full control of my legs. At first, walking was so difficult and painful that I mostly got around in a wheelchair. My physical therapists were extremely motivational, and they helped me push myself to ditch the chair. Within a month, I had moved from the chair to a walker for short distances, and eventually to a cane, which I still use.
The first time I felt truly free after my accident was when I learned to sit-ski. I finally found something I could do where everybody wasn’t constantly waiting for me to catch up. I decided to move to California to pursue it. When I moved out here to Tahoe City, my buddy told me about High Fives and all that they do to help people who have had serious life-altering accidents like mine. I was looking to add physical therapy back into my routine, and I learned that High Fives has in-house trainers who could show me the best way to train based on my specific injury. I received a grant to train at the CR Johnson Healing Center. Since then, I have seen huge results from all of the work that we put into strengthening my lower body. My walking has become more normal, and I am building strength in all of my weakest areas. The trainers at High Fives are extremely knowledgeable. They even make me look forward to training, which used to be a chore. I also recently learned that High Fives has an amazing acupuncturist that I plan on visiting in the near future.
The amount of support and encouragement that High Fives provides for people with injuries like mine has been incredible to experience. There are not many programs that take such a personal interest in the happiness and well-being of people with life-altering injuries. They inspire me to live my best life and keep charging my recovery. High Fives is fully funded through generous donations from individuals and businesses that share the same dream: raising injury prevention awareness, and overcoming extreme obstacles after suffering a life-altering injury to participate once more in the outdoor sports we love. Your donation will help High Fives to continue to support athletes like me with things such as rehabilitation, access to adaptive equipment, and the programs that take adaptive athletes out into the world and teaches them new adaptive sports.
Thank you so much for your support!