$2,565 Empowerment Grant will help Lindsey Runkel learn to drive a vehicle independently

#HighFivesAthlete Lindsey Runkel working hard towards her recovery
#HighFivesAthlete Lindsey Runkel working hard towards her recovery | Photo Courtesy Runkel

The High Fives Foundation is awarding 24-year-old Lindsey Runkel an Empowerment Grant to help aid in her recovery from a life-altering injury she sustained in a mountain biking accident. She was attempting a 15-foot drop on her downhill bike when the accident occurred. Runkel landed slightly forward on her bike and hit a rut in the dirt causing her to be thrown over the bars. She fractured her T5 and 6 vertebrae, damaging her spinal cord causing paralysis from the middle of the chest and below.

#HighFivesAthlete Runkel on her hand cycle
#HighFivesAthlete Runkel on her handcycle | Photo Courtesy Runkel

At the time of her injury, Runkel was given a prognosis of a complete spinal cord injury, but through hard work and lots of physical therapy with the program at Journey Forward in Boston, Mass., she have been able to gain back some sensation and motion. The High Fives Foundation provided her with a $3,000 grant in April to continue training at Journey Forward, and she has seen even more positive gains from this initial support.

#HighFivesAthlete Lindsey stoked to me working out!
#HighFivesAthlete Lindsey stoked to me working out! | Photo Courtesy Runkel

This May Empowerment Grant will provide Runkel with the installation of hand controls on her vehicle. It will also provide her driving sessions with an instructor so that she can safely and independently transport herself as she continues down her path to recovery.

“I want to be able to adventure and travel like I used to without the limitation that a spinal cord injury can cause,” Runkel told the High Fives Foundation in her request for support.

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Runkel all smiles while working out! #HighFivesAthlete | Photo Courtesy Runkel

Roy Tuscany, Executive Director of the High Fives Foundation, said, “There isn’t a ceiling on Lindsey’s recovery with her work ethic. She has a positive attitude and puts forth 110% effort.



Since the High Fives Foundation’s January 2009 inception, the Empowerment program service has assisted 82 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 2015, 21 High Fives Athletes and two organizations have been awarded 29 board-approved grants totaling  $181,199.

In the month of May the High Fives Foundation disbursed $34,406 in board-approved grants.

April Empowerment Athletes:
Kailyn Forsberg from Eagle, Colo.
Lindsay Runkel from Westport, Conn.
Bond Camp from Breckinridge, Colo.
Danielle Shannon from North Conway, N.H.
Matt Leonard from San Francisco, Calif.
Gates Hunsaker from Bountiful, Utah.
Jeff Andrews from Truckee, Calif.
Jason Giovannoni from Reno, Nev.

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