Grant Korgan to break three world records by circumnavigating Lake Tahoe in an outrigger canoe after sustaining a spinal cord injury in 2010

FULL CIRCLE” project will raise awareness and funds for Truckee-based High Fives Foundation


On March 5th, 2010 Incline Village native Grant Korgan was snowmobiling in the Sierra Nevada backcountry when the day, and Korgan’s life, took a tragic turn. He overshot a jump on his snowmobile, the impact leaving him paralyzed from the waist down. The initial prognosis was that Korgan would not move his legs against gravity again.

However, since the injury, Kogan has done what very few people, able-bodied or not, ever aim to accomplish. He has pushed an adaptive cross-country sit-ski to the South Pole. He has swam with whales. He’s an avid snow skier and wave surfer.

“Regardless of ability (or perceived dis-ability), every single one of us has the power to come to the awareness that you can achieve everything you desire in this life,” said Korgan.

Grant Korgan paddling on Donner Lake.
#HighFivesAthlete Grant Korgan paddling on Donner Lake.

This mindset is fueling his newest mission — circumnavigating Lake Tahoe in an Outrigger Canoe. Korgan will paddle along the shoreline, roughly 72 miles, to raise awareness and funds for the High Fives Foundation. Scheduled to happen July 29th, 2015, the event will set the Guinness World Record in three categories: fastest time for a spinal cord injured athlete to circumnavigate Lake Tahoe in a one-man outrigger canoe, fastest time to circumnavigate Lake Tahoe in a one-man outrigger canoe, and fastest time to circumnavigate Lake Tahoe with human power. The current record for paddling around Lake Tahoe is 16.5 hours.

“At no point can we be more than 1000 feet from shore,” Shawna Korgan explained. Shawna is Grant’s wife, his trainer and his inspiration. “The training has been about 7 or 8 months of build up. We’ve had such a no-snow winter that Grant was training on Donner Lake wearing a down vest and thick pants.”

Korgan, being the former CEO of a nanoscience company, has developed a model of spreadsheets detailing the speeds he can travel at various levels of energy, calorie intake and salt intake .

“The model points to me beating that the 16.5 hours,” he said. “I’m not the fastest paddler, but I seem to be pretty good at handling pain and finding progress past those limits.”

Grant Korgan getting after it! #HighFivesAthlete
Grant Korgan getting after it! #HighFivesAthlete

A boat will follow behind Korgan as he paddles continuously around the lake. Korgan’s team will manage the official time clock and document the event, as well as supply nourishment and encouragement.

Early in his recovery, Korgan met High Fives Foundation Executive Director, Roy Tuscany. Tuscany’s Foundation provides support and inspiration throughout the recovery process for athletes like Korgan who have sustained life-altering injuries.

“It was Roy who illuminated the idea that life wasn’t going to be the same, but it was going to be awesome no matter what,” said now 37-year-old Korgan.

Over the course the last five years of Korgan’s recovery, continued assistance from the High Fives Foundation has helped him eliminate the ceiling of what an athlete can achieve after an injury. The incredible partnership between Korgan and High Fives has inspired Korgan to dedicate this most recent project to High Fives, pledging all funds raised to support current and future High Fives Athletes throughout their recoveries.

“It is a powerful coincidence that Grant was the fifth athlete that the Foundation ever helped,” said High Fives Founder, Roy Tuscany. “The fact that Grant is dedicating this project to High Fives after five years of recovery is truly a full circle.”

“I am honored to bring this journey — from growing up on the shores on Incline Village to my story as a High Fives Athlete — full circle,” Korgan said. “To go from being a grant recipient to getting to a point in my recovery to be able to give back all of my effort, energy and positivity back to the Foundation.”

#HighFivesAthlete Grant Korgan
#HighFivesAthlete Grant Korgan

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About the High Fives Non-Profit Foundation: High Fives Foundation is a Tahoe-based, national 501.c.3 non-profit organization The High Fives Foundation supports 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 85 athletes from 20 states to date since its inception in 2009, more information visit

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