Injured Portland skier receives continued grant funding from California-based High Fives Foundation

28-year-old Brandon Pitzer receives $3,296 Empowerment Grant for personal training, acupuncture and physical therapy to rehabilitate after life-altering spinal cord injury

#HighFivesAthlete Brandon Pitzer

On May 3, 2013, while skiing at Mt. Hood, Brandon Pitzer under-rotated a double backflip, instantly halting his lifelong dream of becoming a professional freeskier. The horrific crash left Pitzer in a local area hospital with fractures of the T11 and T12 vertebrae. Having full motor function and feeling below the level of his trauma, he went into surgery the next day for a spinal fusion. When he awoke from his surgery, he discovered something that no one ever wants to experience – he was paralyzed from the waist down.

Following the unsuccessful surgery, Pitzer took the positive road and decided to pour everything he had into his recovery. The young skier immediately went to work in rehab, and while he was making amazing strides, he felt like there was always more that he could do to keep progressing in his recovery. He reached out to the High Fives Foundation in November 2013 for advice and to apply for funding to be used toward Acupuncture, personal training and physical therapy in Portland. The High Fives Foundation has provided grants to Pitzer since, resulting in huge gains in recovery. So far, Pitzer has been the recipient of seven Board-approved Empowerment Grants. He is walking and skiing again while building on his mobility and strength.

The September 2015 Empowerment Grant for $3,296 will provide Pitzer sessions of personal training at Whole Body Fitness, physical therapy at Gateway Sports Medicine, and acupuncture at East Meets West Acupuncture and Massage, all in Portland area.

“My goal,” said 28-year-old Pitzer, “is to getting back to teach skiing again. And I want to be able to run and have the strength to have a normal life again.”

“These treatments, that he wouldn’t otherwise receive, are truly changing his life,” said Roy Tuscany, Executive Director of the High Fives Foundation. “Every time he applies for funding, he is very thankful, and we are happy to support his recovery goals.”

Since the High Fives Foundation’s January 2009 inception, the Empowerment Program Service has assisted 89 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, the Foundation has disbursed approximately $310,000 to 30 athletes, three organizations and three High Fives Foundation-hosted adaptive sports camps.

In the month of September the High Fives Foundation disbursed $24,261 in Board-approved grants to eight High Fives Athletes.

September Empowerment Athletes:  

Lindsay Runkel from Westport, Conn.
Keith Gabel from Salt Lake City, Utah.
Kevin Cheung from San Bruno, Calif.
Nick Fairall from Andover, NH.
Sally Franklin from Denver, Colo.
Andrew Kurka from Homer, Alaska.
Landon McGauley from Quesnel, BC.
Brandon Pitzer from Portland, OR.

About the High Fives Non-Profit Foundation: High Fives Foundation is a Tahoe-based, national 501.c.3 non-profit organization supporting the dreams of mountain action sports athletes by raising injury prevention awareness while providing resources and inspiration to those who suffer life-altering injuries. Formed as a way to “pay-it-forward” by the founder from his own recovery to help injured athletes, the Foundation has helped 89 athletes to date since its inception in 2009, more information visit www.highfivesfoundation.org.

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