Behind the Wheel with High Fives Foundation’s Return to Dirt Program

Return to Dirt Logo

In a world where limitations often overshadow aspirations, the Return to Dirt program, a service of the High Fives Foundation, stands as a beacon of hope and opportunity for physically impaired individuals. Through innovative equipment and dedicated instruction, this program empowers disabled athletes to reclaim their sense of adventure and explore the great outdoors in ways they once thought impossible.

In a recent High Fives video series called Adapt & Destroy sponsored by Craig Hospital, Tim Burr, the Return to Dirt program coordinator, takes us through the process of how adaptive athlete Matt Tychsen utilizes specialized equipment to drive a Can-Am Maverick X3—a journey that embodies the essence of freedom, independence, and sheer determination. This Adapt & Destroy video highlights the DIRT pillar of High Fives Foundation.

As the video begins, we are introduced to Tim Burr, whose passion for empowering disabled individuals shines through as he guides us through the intricacies of the Return to Dirt program. Matt Tychsen, High Fives athlete number 526, serves as a testament to the program’s impact as he adapts and drives the off-road vehicle with confidence and skill.

The process begins with Matt transferring into the vehicle—a task that, while challenging, becomes manageable with practice and the right support. With a quick-release steering wheel system and a leg retention device to ensure stability, Matt swiftly positions himself in the driver’s seat, ready to embark on his off-road adventure.

The attention to detail in the equipment is evident as Tim highlights the interchangeable steering orthotics, designed to accommodate drivers with upper limb paralysis, and the crucial SureGrip hand controls, which allow Matt to effortlessly operate both the gas and brake with a single handle.

But beyond the technical specifications lies the heart of the Return to Dirt program—a commitment to providing disabled individuals with access to the joys of off-road exploration. Whether it’s the thrill of twisting the throttle or simply soaking in the natural beauty of the backcountry, every participant is given the opportunity to experience the freedom and exhilaration of off-road driving.

Return to Dirt isn’t just about driving—it’s about reuniting disabled athletes with a part of themselves that can only be found in nature. As the program continues to expand its impact, it serves as a reminder that with the right equipment, expertise, and support, no dream is out of reach.

In the words of Mason, a participant in the Return to Dirt program, “My experiences are a huge part of my recovery story and returning to a kind of fun I never thought possible again—fast and DIRTy.” Mason’s story encapsulates the transformative power of the program, inspiring others to embrace their own journey of recovery, discovery, and empowerment.

With over 246 total athlete experiences since its inception in 2018, and countless smiles per mile, the Return to Dirt program continues to make a profound impact on the lives of disabled individuals across the country.

Join us as we pave the way for a future where limitations are no match for the human spirit, and dreams are limited only by the bounds of imagination.