On one-year anniversary of life-altering mountain biking injury, Lindsey Runkel receives second Empowerment Grant from California-based High Fives Foundation

$8,900 grant will provide Runkel with an adaptive mountain bike to re-enter the sport she loves

#HighFivesAthlete Lindsey Runkel and her mountain biking community (Photo Credit: Instagram @lindseyrunks)
#HighFivesAthlete Lindsey Runkel and her mountain biking community (Photo Credit: Instagram @lindseyrunks)

The High Fives Foundation is awarding 24-year-old Lindsay Runkel a second board-approved Empowerment Grant to help aid in her recovery from a life-altering injury she suffered while mountain biking on October 5, 2014. Runkel was attempting a 15-foot drop on her bike when she landed too far forward and was thrown from the handle bars. She suffered a spinal cord injury that caused paralysis below her waist. Since the injury, she has been intensively rehabilitating towards her goal of walking and returning to her favorite outdoor activities, most recently surfing with the High Fives Foundation in New Jersey this Summer. Runkel is a resident of Westport, Conn.

Earlier in 2015, the High Fives Foundation provided Runkel a grant for Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES) at Journey Forward in Canton, Mass. to increase her muscle mass and fitness, sensation and motion.

Now, exactly one year from the date of her injury, Runkel has recovered to a point where she has returned to the mountain biking community. High Fives provided Lindsey a Board-approved Empowerment Grant for a Sport-On X3 Adaptive Mountain Bike, a three-wheeled, hand-propelled cycle designed for trail riding for adaptive athletes.

“I am rediscovering my love for the trails, but in an ‘adaptive’ fashion,” said Runkel. “I am beyond excited to share this love with my friends and the mountain biking community.”

“Lindsey’s positivity is fueling her recovery 100%,” said Roy Tuscany, High Fives Foundation Executive Director. “You can see from her posts on her social media accounts that she’s truly making huge gains and always with a smile.”

Another goal for Runkel is empowering people. Through her actions, she shows them that anything is possible, even when faced with major adversity. She wants people to know that they can accomplish whatever they set their mind to, as long as they are willing to put in the hard work and necessary determination.

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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