Grant funding from Tahoe-based High Fives Foundation allows San Francisco man to heal at home in San Francisco

Empowerment Grant will provide Matt Leonard with vital acupuncture sessions to aid in flexibility and mobility

#highfivesathlete Matt Leonard practicing with innovative adaptive technology Photo courtesy Craig Hospital

The High Fives Foundation is awarding 28-year-old Matt Leonard an Empowerment Grant to help aid in his recovery from a life-altering injury he sustained at Alpine Meadows in Lake Tahoe, Calif. last winter. Leonard was doing a warm up run under the Summit Chair at the resort. His ski edge caught the snow wrongly, sending him into an ice mogul. In the crash, one of his skis came off, propelling him into the ninth tower pole of the chairlift. He was airlifted to Renown Medical Center, in Reno, Nevada, where Leonard found that he 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.

This October Empowerment Grant from the High Fives Foundation will go towards sessions of acupuncture from renowned local acupuncturist Jonah Hershowitz to help Leonard with blood flow and nerve pain.

“This grant will allow me to continue weekly acupuncture, dry needling and cold laser treatments here near my home in San Francisco,” said Leonard. “My short term goal is to continue on the path to being pain free and to regain as much flexibility and mobility, especially in my neck. ”

“He is figuring the ins and outs of adaptive city living, and he is doing it with a positive attitude,” said Roy Tuscany, High Fives Foundation Executive Director. “If there are major spinal cord injury medical breakthroughs down the road he wants to be healthy.”

Since the High Fives Foundation’s January 2009 inception, the Empowerment program service has assisted 91 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. The Foundation has exceeded this goal and has disbursed $339,209 in grant funding towards the recovery goals of athletes with life-altering injuries.

In the month of October the High Fives Foundation disbursed $6,582 in board-approved grants.


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