High Fives first learned of Alex Uppenkamp when a grant application came across our computer screens. The application was from Alex’s father, Mike. It explained that his 18-year-old son had recently had a terrible mountain bike and is in the Intensive care unit at Sharp Memorial Hospital in San Diego. They did not know the exact severity of the injuries or exactly what they needed from High Fives. They did know that this was a severe injury and that it would take a whole community to get through it.
From reading the application, it was abundantly clear to us that the Uppenkamp’s were an incredibly tight-knit family. Both Alex’s mom and dad had stopped work, and Alex’s brothers had paused their schooling to be there with their brother as they all faced the hardest challenge of their lives.
Later on, the extent of Alex’s injuries would be revealed. When he had overshot the jump on his bike, he had broken his third Cervical vertebrae damaging his spinal cord. This impact all aspect of Alex’s life. Alex had limited upper body function, but Alex’s spirit and soul were left intact. Fortunately, as we all would learn, it takes a heck of a lot to take away this young man’s heart.
In the years since we first learned of Alex, we have seen him accomplish many things. Including getting back on a mountain bike and returning to surf.
- Completed Arcade Belt Goal:
“my goal with this grant is to make it down the line on my own on the surfboard.”
- Return to mountain biking
To the Uppenkamp family, you have shown us all the true definition of family truly is. Your resilience and togetherness in the face of adversity is something that we all look up to and strive to achieve.
To Alex, You truly amaze us daily. Your ability to continue being the person you want to be and do the things you love, such as mountain biking and surfing, following a life-changing injury, makes us so proud. Seeing you shredding on a wave or ripping some jumps on your bike is so rad! You continue to be yourself and show others that the only limits we truly experience are the ones we put on ourselves. High Fives will always be there for you. We cannot wait to see what you will do next.