The Largest Winter Empowerment Grant to Date Awarded in March 2014

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The Winter Empowerment program service disburses board approved grants to disabled winter action sports athletes participating in winter adaptive sports or athletes recovering from a life-altering injury. In March, the Foundation’s Board of Directors Grant Selection Committee approved two grants for two athletes totaling close to $25,000.00.

The grant to High Fives Athlete Dominic Prado is the single largest grant to date, to a Winter Empowerment Athlete since the Foundation’s inception in 2009. Previously, the Winter Empowerment Fund’s largest disbursed grants were for $13,000.00 (to Michael Schwarz for two Bioness L300 Foot Drop Systems), for $12,000.00 (to Cody Walker for in-patient physical therapy at the University of Utah) and for $8,440.00 (to Paralympic Skier – Andrew Kurka for a sit-ski, race skis and bindings). Of the two athletes to receive board-approved grants in March 2014, one has previously been awarded grants through the Winter Empowerment Fund and a new athlete (Prado) has been welcomed into the High Fives Foundation Family, as the 57th athlete.

This grant cycle marks the largest grant approved by the Foundation’s and brings the total number of Winter Empowerment Fund athletes assisted to 57 athletes from 18 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 2014 the High Fives Foundation set a budget of disbursing $196,000.00 via board-approved grants through the Winter Empowerment Fund. Thus far in 2014, eight High Fives Athletes were awarded six grants for a total of $44,215.91.

Learn more about these athletes that have been awarded grants via the Winter Empowerment Fund in March 2014; Dominic Prado of Pinole, CA and Michael Schwarz of Chester, VT:

Dominic Prado in Physical Therapy (Photo: Prado Family)

In January 2012 Dominic Prado (of Pinole, CA) broke his neck while snowboarding at Mt. High in Southern California. He suffered a C6 incomplete spinal cord injury. Dominic spent 7 days in the ICU at Huntington Memorial Hospital in Pasadena, CA before being transferred to the Kaiser Vallejo Rehabilitation Center close to his home where he spent eight weeks in in-patient rehab.

Dominic, an incomplete, is currently in a wheelchair and figuring out the most effective ways to combat his spasms and atrophy, while helping to increase strength, feeling and circulation. Dominic currently uses an FES bike at his rehab facility 3 times a week, and experiences his best results and gains from his time on the bike. He often has trouble getting on a bike, as it is an extremely popular piece of equipment at his facility. This Grant will allow Dominic unlimited usage of the FES Bike and allow him to make big gains in his recovery.

March Winter Empowerment Grant for Dominic Prado: $19,999.00 (Adaptive Equipment – Restorative Therapies FES Bike: $19,999.00)

Mike Schwarz is all Thumbs Up (Photo Fran Schwarz)

Michael Schwarz (of Chester, VT) suffered a traumatic brain injury while competing in a snowboard competition in 2009 at the World Quarter Pipe Championships at Magic Mountain in Vermont. Michael Schwarz and his supportive family have been huge High Fives promoters and attended all of the East Coast events for the last two years since receiving a grant for $13,400.00 in 2012 for two Bioness L300 Foot Drop Units as well as a second grant for $1,500.00 for Acupuncture in 2013. The Bioness units and Acupuncture helped Mike to make massive gains in his recovery, and toward his goal of walking unassisted.

Michael has been working on walking again independently so he can return to snowboarding and continue his vocation as a graphic designer. Michael currently has his own company called El Schwarez Designs that creates winter sports socks. Michael would love to eventually design snowboards.

March Winter Empowerment Grant for Michael Schwarz: $4536.00 (Adaptive Equipment – Hippocampe All Terrain Wheelchair: $2,990.00, with a Transport Bag: $139.00, an Adjustable Seat Back: $390.00, a Break for Transferring: $229.00, a Front Wheel Ski: $289.00 and Large Back Wheels: $499.00 totaling $4,536.00)

TOTAL GRANTS FOR MARCH 2014: $24,535.00


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