San Francisco skier awarded grant funding for vital treatments following life-altering injury

Tahoe-based High Fives Foundation provides Matt Leonard an Empowerment Grant for adaptive ski lessons with Achieve Tahoe.

#HighFivesAthlete Matt Leonard
#HighFivesAthlete Matt Leonard

High Fives Foundation is awarding Matt Leonard an Empowerment Grant of $505 to help him take the next step in his road to recovery. The Grant is providing Leonard the opportunity to ski with adaptive ski program Achieve Tahoe for first time since his injury.

Leonard was doing a warm up run at Alpine Meadows under the Summit Chair, when his ski caught an edge and causing one of his skis to come off, which sent him into the tower 9 pole of the Summit Chair. Leonard had compressed his spine 90%, shattered his T5/T6 vertebra, and had a 45-degree kink in his spine, leaving him paralyzed from the chest down.

Matt wants to be able to live a fun, independent, outdoor and active life. Prior to his accident, he skied, played soccer, tennis and was an avid rock climber and hiker. “Skiing was the thing I loved to do more than anything,” says Leonard. “I’m dying to get back on the mountain and shred again.”

Matt is currently living back in San Francisco adjusting to life in a wheelchair, and he’s becoming more and more comfortable and can’t wait to get back to the mountains. “Matt is a model High Fives Athlete,” said Roy Tuscany, High Fives Foundation Executive Director. “He’s positive, he’s highly motivated, and we’re proud to support him in all of his goals.”

The High Fives Foundation supports injured mountain sports athletes through grant funding to be used towards reaching their recovery goals. Since the High Fives Foundation’s January 2009 inception, the Empowerment program service has assisted 104 athletes from 22 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 Quarter 1 of 2016 the High Fives Foundation disbursed $91,509 in board-approved grants to 19 athletes in 9 states.


About the High Fives Foundation: The 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 104 athletes to date since its inception in 2009. For more information visit www.highfivesfoundation.org

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