A letter from an Athlete | Thomas Cloyd 

A letter from an Athlete | Thomas Cloyd 

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.

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High Fives is honored to be associated with Thomas Cloyd, seeing Thomas set goals and put his mind to completing them is nothing less than incredible.

The Bay area resident was a very active and talented  member in his community, who unfortunately had a spinal cord injury after diving into some water, hitting a stump.

After learning of his paralysis, Cloyd 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.

Cloyd’s infectious smile, positive attitude and dedication has taken him 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 Thomas

Hello, my name is Thomas Cloyd and I have a C-5 spinal cord injury resulting in the complete paralysis of my fingers and below my chest. I am what my rugby playing friends call a “low-point quad”. Though it was unfortunate, I hit a tree stump with my forehead when diving into a lake 7 years ago, I consider myself lucky to have survived and thankful for my friends’ actions to prevent me from drowning. I can still remember floating face down in Lake Muskegee, completely paralyzed, and opening my eyes to stare through the shallow water at the sandbar below. I quickly realized this was not a regular injury. From that moment forward I have focused much of my time and effort on regaining and improving the life that I lost that night. Without hesitation, I can say High Fives has played a crucial role in that mission.  


Though my time with High Fives has been relatively short, it certainly has been impactful. In August 2019, I moved from my childhood hometown of Minneapolis, MN to live independently for the first time in Oakland, CA. I started a full-time job and was responsible for all aspects of my life for the first time as a quad. This change was more challenging both mentally and physically than I care to admit. 5 months into my California life and I was having doubts about my ability to carry on the life I had worked to regain, maybe I needed to move back to Minnesota. Then High Fives arranged for me to go to Alpine Meadows Resort near Lake Tahoe where I skied (almost) independently in my first session. Boom. The tenacity and will that drove me from Lake Muskegee to Oakland were immediately rekindled. High Fives empowered me to prove to myself what I was capable of – pretty much anything.


It is that empowerment that makes High Fives such a powerful organization and its committed culture that makes it a uniquely impactful one. A traumatic injury initially shatters the body and soul of most who experience it. By providing meaningful athletic and social opportunities to athletes, High Fives delivers a means for us to rebuild and become stronger than we were before.


The support and opportunities High Fives provides, picked me up when I most needed it and in a way no one could. I have no doubt there are many others who feel the same way, and unfortunately, there will be thousands more like me, needing a push to realize what they are capable of, for decades to come. I am relieved to know High Fives will be there to help those people out. For my experience and the experiences of others, I deeply thank High Fives, its staff, donors, and all who help them fulfill their mission. Y’all rock.



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