A letter from an Athlete | Ryan St.Lawrence
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 honored to have Ryan St.Lawrence on our team of Athletes, Seeing Ryan’s hard work and determination pay off in the form of incredible trips, stellar images and amazing videos on his adaptive mountain bike.
The New Hampshire local was always an avid and extremely talented downhill mountain biker, who unfortunately took a hard fall while riding with friends, damaging his spinal cord. This changed the form of bike he rode but it did not diminished his love for the sport and he quickly picked up where he left off, charging down trails on an adaptive mountain bike.
St.Lawrence’s infectious positive attitude and dedication has taken him so far since his injury. We look forward to see how he will continue to represent the Foundation by being the best version of himself.
A Letter From Ryan
On Aug 13, 2016, life was simple, my biggest concern was getting as many laps with my friends as I could while riding my downhill mountain bike at Highland Mountain Bike Park in Northfield, NH. Unfortunately, that all changed when I crashed on the last lap of the day. When I rolled to a stop after the crash, I immediately knew something was very wrong. I was unable to stand up, I had no feeling in the lower half of my body, and even scarier, no movement.
The days following my crashed marked the scariest time of my life. My future felt very dark and uncertain. On the 7th day in the ICU, a bright ray of light illuminated my life and cast a very bright image of my future. Someone by the name of Roy Tuscany was calling me. Roy explained what the High Fives Foundation was, what they had done for others and how they could help me. I knew immediately that I wanted to be part of this High Fives family. The next 3 months of my life were spent learning how to live life without the use of my legs, tireless hours were spent in the gym and at different physical therapy appointments, it was incredibly challenging but I knew I needed to do it, so I could get back to living the life I wanted to.
Even when I found out I was paralyzed and the doctor told me I was never going to walk again I knew I was not done riding bikes. As soon as I was done with hospitals and rehabilitation centers I quickly got to testing out every adaptive bike available. I was impressed with some of the options but knew that there was room for better bikes that would allow me to ride as I had before my accident. I decided to create my own adaptive bike, I thought about how I could come as close as possible to replicating the feeling of riding 2 wheels, I came up with a “bucket bike”. I took the seat off of a sit-ski and mounted it to the frame of a regular downhill mountain bike, this would allow me to ride my bike in the most similar way to that of an able-bodied person. With the help and support of the High Fives Foundation, I was loving life, back on two wheels again. I was also able to make connections with the folks at BowHead and am now a rider/tester for their groundbreaking new, independent suspension, adaptive trike.
This summer I set out on a two-month solo North American van trip to accomplish some lofty goals. I was able to ride all over Canada and the United States. I had the opportunity to go helicopter Biking in Retallack BC, compete in Crankworx Whistler, ride world-class trails in Nelson, BC as well as ride with other adaptive athletes at Northstar, CA. To say this summer was a whirlwind of travel, biking and good times would be an understatement.
None of this would have been possible without the support, encouragement, and direction from High Fives and the Athletes they empower. Without High Fives I know I would not be where I am at both mentally and physically. The community they have created has changed my life and with their continued support, the sky’s the limit for what is possible for adaptive athletes such as myself.