January 2019 | West Coast Empowerment Grants Funded

Meet our 7 West Coast #HighFivesAthletes who received grant funding in January 2019

Kelsey Boyer from Salt Lake City, UT, Athlete # 209, Erik Johnson from San Diego, CA, Athlete #232, Jason Abraham from Alpine Meadows, CA, Athlete #70, Rod Alavi from Alamo, CA, Athlete #204, Jeff Andrews from Verdi, NV, Athlete #59, Tommy Michaels from Berkeley, CA, Athlete #197 & Tyler McKenzie from Salt Lake City, Athlete #192


Kelsey Boyer | Salt Lake City, UT Athlete # 209

Kelsey Boyer sustained a subdural hematoma in a snowboarding accident in the Spring of 2016. The injury resulted in a traumatic brain injury, but through maintaining a positive attitude and hard work, Kelsey is back to doing the things that she loves.

The High Fives Foundation provided Kelsey a grant for $5,000 to be used toward brain training sessions at Cognitive FX in Salt Lake City. This is the second grant the she has received from the organization, and the sessions have played a large part in Kelsey’s recovery.

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I’m beyond excited about this opportunity. The treatments take quite the stress off of my shoulders and have really helped in my recovery.

gleamed Kelsey

The grant will help me get back to skiing (and snowboarding) with solid prosthesis to improve ability and safety.

said High Fives Athlete, Erik Johnson With excitement


Erik Johnson | San Diego, CA | Athlete #232

In May 2015, Erik sustained a severe fall while canyoneering—his anchor blew when he was suspended on a 50 ft. overhang. He shattered both heels and ankles, sustained an open compound fracture to his right tib & fib. Through the heroic efforts of his canyoneering partner and a massive tri-county rescue operation, Erik was airlifted to Kern County Medical Center in critical condition and going into renal failure.

The accident ultimately led to the amputation of Erik’s leg, but it has not slowed him down in the least. Erik received a grant from the High Fives Foundation for $7,500 to be used toward a ski prosthetic from the Hanger Clinic. He is stoked to get back out on the hill!

Jason Abraham | Alpine Meadows, CA | Athlete #70

Jason was skiing at Squaw Valley with the Gaffney Brothers and a bunch of local rippers on one of the only powder days of the year. Jason was taking photos of the crew when he decided he’d take a free ski run on Main Chute on the Palisades. After entering the chute, Jason picked up speed quick and came out of the run very fast. Toward the bottom of Main Chute Jason caught an edge and was thrown on his back. The impact resulted in a burst fractured C6 vertebrae causing temporary paralysis from the shoulders down.

Jason continues to workout with CR Johnson Healing Center trainers, and the massage sessions granted in January from the High Fives Foundation will allow him to be prepared for his next gym session.

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Massages with Karen are extremely important in preparing me for my next workout with Chris. She gets me limber and loose, and I’m always able to give Chris 100% when I’m in the gym.

said Jason about working with the CR Johnson Healing Center’s practitioners.

Rod Alavi | Alamo, CA | Athlete #204

Rod Alavi and his family have always been avid skiers in Northern California Sierra Mountain Range. On February 22, 2018, Rod suffered a spinal cord injury on the backside of Northstar Resort during a snowy day. His injury was a C5 incomplete spinal cord injury, and during his rehab at Craig Hospital he regained some mobility in his legs and hands.

The High Fives Foundation provided $3,300 in funding to be used toward personal training sessions at SCI-Fit in Pleasanton, CA so that Rod can keep working on the progress that he has been making.

Rod is a goal-oriented person, has had a second home in the Tahoe region for a long time, and has expressed interest in helping the High Fives Foundation down the road. For now, he plans to pour everything he has into his recovery.

I love being part of the High Fives Community. There’s not too many places that I’ve been where people actually get what you’re going through, and what you’re working toward.

said Jeff Andrews with a smile


Jeff Andrews | Truckee, CA | Athlete #59

Jeff suffered a C6 burst fracture with associated spinal cord injury and transverse process fractures at L1-3, resulting in quadriplegia C5-C7 in a snowboarding accident that occurred at Sugar Bowl in March 2015.

Jeff’s goals revolve around independence. He participates in adaptive sports and has become almost entirely independent. He recently built an accessible home in Verdi, NV that will allow him to be 100% less reliant on others.

Jeff continues to workout with CR Johnson Healing Center trainers, and the massage sessions granted in January from the High Fives Foundation will allow him to be prepared for his next gym session.

Tommy Michaels | Berkeley, CA | Athlete #197

In August 2017, Tommy Michaels went over his handlebars while biking on a dirt trail. The trail took a turn around a tree into a blind step down, which then led to an unexpected narrow bridge crossing a river. The bike steered away from the bridge into the river, sending Tommy head-first into the up-sloped river bank on the other side.

Once extracted, the initial trauma classified Tommy as an ASIA B incomplete paraplegia at the C4 level. His C5-C7 vertebrae were fused together and C6 had to be replaced. He is currently classified as an ASIA D C5 walking quadriplegic. Tommy’s right side has close to full mobility, though he lacks sensation, while his left side has severe motor inhibition with full sensation.

In January 2019, the High Fives Foundation was proud to provide funding for an adaptive pass at Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows. He is back out there enjoying the amazing winter that the Tahoe basin is experiencing.

I'm so stoked to get out there and ski at Squaw/Alpine! Ever since the High Fives Adaptive Winter Park trip. It opened my eyes to the idea of skiing again. With this grant and the outriggers you helped locate, it's time to ski with my gal again and take on Squaw four-track style! The next stop is backcountry skiing!

said Tommy Michaels

Weekly massages are a vital component when coupled with an intensive physical training regimen. Promoting flexibility, fighting inflammation, enhancing recovery and relaxation have been monumental in managing my intense nerve pain while my body continues to rewire and build itself.

said Tyler

Tyler McKenzie Highfives horizontal

Tyler McKenzie | Salt Lake City | Athlete #192

On Memorial day weekend 2017, things completely changed for Tyler McKenzie. After skiing down off the cirque at Snowbird to catch the last Tram of the day, Tyler and his friends were picking their way down the traverse, when a small wet slide put him off balance, carrying him just off the trail and spinning him around. In his periphery, Tyler saw that he was sliding toward a tree and exposed terrain that had been covered with snow all season. At that point, he turned his head/face from the tree and braced for impact.

The impact led to nerves from Tyler’s arm being removed from his spinal cord, leading to temporary paralysis in his arm.

Tyler has received High Fives grants toward his recovery in the past, and the January grant will provide him with funds to be used toward personal training and massage sessions in the Salt Lake City area.

Tyler is particularly excited about the massage sessions.

Meet the 20 Empowerment Grant, JANUARY 2019 #HighFivesAthletes





The High Fives Foundation supports injured outdoor action sports Athletes through grant funding to be used towards reaching their recovery goals. Since the Foundation’s January 2009 inception, the Empowerment Program Service has assisted 235 Athletes from 32 states in nine respective funding categories: Living expenses, insurance, travel, health, healing network, adaptive equipment, winter equipment, programs and “stoke” (positive energy, outlook and attitude). 


High Fives focuses on preventing life-changing injuries and provides resources and hope if they happen.


The leader of education and recovery of life-changing injuries in outdoor sports.


The safety net of the outdoor community.

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