Nick Fairall will receive $1,450 Empowerment Grant for hand controls used to drive independently and living expenses for a fully accessible room near rehabilitation center

Empowerment Grant from High Fives Foundation helps American Olympian ski jumper Nick Fairall with recovery from life-altering injury

#highfivesathlete Nick Fairall | Photo Courtesy Fairall

The High Fives Foundation is awarding 25-year-old Nick Fairall from Andover, N.H. an Empowerment Grant to help aid in his recovery from a life-altering injury.

On January 5th, 2015, Fairall was competing in the Ski Jumping World Cup event in Bischofshofen, Austria. During qualifications, Fairall had a great jump that would have qualified him for the round. However, due to the wet snow conditions, his skis stuck in the snow immediately upon landing. As a result, his center of gravity and balance were thrown forward — the impact folded Fairall in half. Medical personnel arrived immediately to his aid and rushed him to the local hospital where he underwent emergency spinal surgery within two hours of the crash.

#HighFivesAthlete Nick | Photo Courtesy Fairall
#HighFivesAthlete Nick | Photo Courtesy Fairall

This June Board-approved Empowerment Grant from the High Fives Foundation will provide Fairall with hand controls to independently drive his vehicle. Hand controls are used to control the gas and brakes for individuals with limited mobility below their waist. This will allow him to transport to and from his therapy sessions without relying on family, friends or expensive transportation.

#HighFivesAthlete Nick Fairall | Photo Courtesy Fairall
#HighFivesAthlete Nick Fairall | Photo Courtesy Fairall

The June grant will also pay for extended stay at a handicap accessible room at the Residence Inn in West Orange, N.J. near the Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation — the facility at which Fairall is currently working towards his recovery.

Fairall #HighFivesAthlete | Photo Courtesy Fairall
Fairall #HighFivesAthlete | Photo Courtesy Fairall

“My absolute main goal, focus, and desire is to ski jump again,” said Fairall. “It will always be on my mind, and I will always continue to work towards it.”

Empowerment Grant from High Fives Foundation continues to help Mike Schwarz in his recovery from a life-altering injury

Schwarz will attend therapeutic equine assisted riding program in Springfield VT to gain flexibility, coordination and independence

#highfivesathlete Mike Schwarz
#highfivesathlete Mike Schwarz

The High Fives Foundation is awarding 27-year-old Mike Schwarz an Empowerment Grant for sessions of Equine Therapy to help him with his recovery from a traumatic brain injury he sustained in a snowboarding accident in March 2009.

#HighFivesAthlete Schwarz STOKED! | Photo Courtesy Schwarz
#HighFivesAthlete Schwarz STOKED! | Photo Courtesy Schwarz

While attending his Senior year at University of Vermont, Schwarz crashed while competing in a quarter pipe snowboarding championship. He was in a coma for many weeks, diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury. He spent the next year in a rehab hospital recovering in the gym, the pool and the recumbent bike. Since the injury, Schwarz has gained back most of his living skills and is enjoying the positive growth his custom sock business El SchwarEZ Designs.

#HighFivesAthlete Schwarz w/ his El SchwarEZ Designs socks | Photo Courtesy Schwarz
#HighFivesAthlete Schwarz w/ his El SchwarEZ Designs socks | Photo Courtesy Schwarz

His grant request in June for Equine Therapy was approved by the High Fives Foundation’s Board of Directors. He will ride at Dream On Curls Riding Center in Springfield, VT where spending time with horses will provide adaptive athletes like Schwarz physical, emotional, social, and cognitive challenges. Their staff and horses work together in case-specific lessons offering the opportunity to experience achievement, joy and community.

Michael Schwarz w/ father #HighFivesAthlete | Photo Courtesy High Fives
Michael Schwarz w/ father, Fran #HighFivesAthlete | Photo Courtesy High Fives

“Therapeutic riding has been shown to be beneficial and increase flexibility, balance, coordination and body awareness,” Mike Schwarz told the High Fives Foundation. His story of recovery is shared in the 2014 High Fives Foundation B.A.S.I.C.S. Documentary, “#HelmetsAreCool.

Since the High Fives Foundation’s January 2009 inception, the Empowerment program service has assisted 85 athletes from 20 states in nine respective funding categories which include: living expenses, insurance, travel, health, healing network, adaptive equipment, winter equipment, programs and “stoke” (positive energy, outlook and attitude).

In 2015, the High Fives Foundation set a budget of disbursing $266,000 via board-approved grants through the Empowerment Fund. Since January 2015, 26 High Fives Athletes and two organizations have been awarded 40 board-approved grants totaling  $211,393.

In the month of June the High Fives Foundation disbursed $30,194 in board-approved grants to nine athletes.

June Empowerment Athletes:
Jamie Crane-Mauzy from Salt Lake City, Utah.
Bond Camp from Breckenridge, Colo.
Megan Wemmer from Boulder, Colo.
Nick Fairall from Andover, N.H.
Kevin Cheung from San Francisco, Calif.
Mike Schwarz from Chester, VT.
Jim Harris from Salt Lake City, Utah
Aaron Baker from Northridge, Calif.
Josh Dueck from Vernon, British Columbia

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