Meet the September 2017 West Coast Athletes

The High Fives Foundation supports injured mountain 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 167 athletes from 31 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).

Through September 2017, the High Fives Foundation has approved $ 444,673.84 in 114 board-approved grants to 73 individuals across 23 states (including the 2017 Military to the Mountains Program) and the sponsorship of two adaptive sport teams.

In September 2017, the High Fives Foundation experienced its’ largest grant cycle in the young organization’s history, granting $110,578.89 to 22 individuals and the sponsorship of a wheelchair rugby team in Reno, NV and one sled hockey team in Central Vermont. Nine of these individuals reside on the West Coast:

Meet the September 2017 West Coast Athletes;

Forrest Campbell | Invermere, BC, Canada

Forrest is a C6/C7 incomplete quadriplegic. He was injured while free skiing at Panorama Mountain Resort in Invermere, British Columbia. It was a warm day with heavy snowfall at the top of the mountain, and rain at the bottom of the mountain. Forrest was headed down the mountain to go to his son’s birthday party. As he was heading down he hit a soft and rain affected patch of snow. His skis stopped dead, and he double ejected from his bindings and landed on his head and neck. It happened so fast that he could not even react. Next thing he knew, he was lying on his back not able to move his legs or arms.

Forrest’s goal has remained the same throughout his recovery – To stay as healthy and active as possible, and to enjoy the sports that he used to with his family and friends.

Forrest reached out to the High Fives Foundation last winter and expressed his desire to get back out on the mountain. The organization worked closely with Forrest and was able to purchase him a Tessier bi-ski in the 2017 September grant cycle. He will now be able to spend time out on the hill with friends and family., skiing independently and loving the freedom of skiing the mountain.


High Fives provided in September 2017, A Tessier Bi-Ski


Jeff Andrews | Truckee, CA

Jeff suffered a C6 burst fracture with associated spinal cord injury and transverse process fractures at L1,L2, L3, resulting in quadriplegia C5-C7 in a snowboarding accident that occurred at Sugar Bowl on March 15 of 2014.

Jeff’s goals revolve around independence. He currently participates in multiple adaptive sports and he strives to become as independent as possible. He is moving into a fully accessible house in Verdi, NV next year, and that will allow him to be 100% less reliant on others. He also just purchased an accessible RV that has allowed him to spend extended periods of time down south surfing – his true passion. Earlier this year, he was crowned the World Adaptive Assist Prone Champion and a member of Team USA adaptive surfing.

Jeff has been super motivated to put everything he has into his recovery. Coupled with training at the Healing Center and participating in a number of adaptive sports, Jeff has paired massage with his active lifestyle to keep him ready for his next adventure.

High Fives provided in September 2017, Massage from Karen Stubbs

Tanelle Bolt | Invermere, BC, Canada

Tanelle became a paraplegic when she broke her back while free jumping off a 60′ bridge. The impact resulted in a complete injury from her T6 vertebrae down.

While Tanelle wants to achieve the ultimate goal of getting back on her feet, she hopes to achieve the goal of becoming a sought after Para-Olympian athlete for Canada as both a summer (surfing) & winter (sitskiing) competitor.

Only injured for 2 ½ years, Tanelle has already taken the adaptive world by storm. She is already an accomplished adaptive surfer and is looking to getting more active in the ski world. She just purchased her own monoski, and has her sights set on the podium. High Fives is providing custom seating for her monoski so she can perform at the highest level.


High Fives provided in September 2017, Custom monoski seat from Aspen Seating

Andrew Kurka | Palmer, AK

Andrew suffered a T10-12 fracture and shatter from flipping an ATV on a fishing trip. The ATV landed on him and changed his life forever.

Following his injury, Andrew has become an adaptive superstar, holding a spot on the US Paralympic Alpine Racing Team. Andrew wants to be the best athlete representative possible and show what people with disabilities are capable of…on and off of snow. He will be competing in the 2018 Winter Paralympic in South Korea representing the US Ski Team. High Fives providing race skis for Andrew pursue his dream of winning gold in multiple disciplines at the Winter Games.


High Fives provided in September 2017, Volkl skis for the 2017/18 race season


Yvonne Michaud | Independence, OR

On May 30, 2013, Yvonne attached her Giant Revel 29er mountain bike onto the back of her stick-shift Tiburon coupe, loaded her Greyhound in the back seat, and left her 3rd floor apartment in Wichita Falls, Texas. She was going to visit her boyfriend, Andrew, who lived in Arlington, for a few days before dropping off the grid the next week for a research assistant internship near Big Bend National Park. Little did Yvonne know, that the next day she was going to break her back and injure her spinal cord in a biking accident.

Her ultimate goal is to run a half marathon, though she would be incredibly happy just to get to a point where she can stand and walk full time. Yvonne would like to be able to donate her wheelchair to someone who needs it and cannot afford one, along with a note letting them know that recovery is possible. She is a positive influencer for the adaptive community.

Her immediate goals are to have a way to do physical therapy independently, get outside, and put her legs to work!

High Fives provided in September 2017, Bionx power-assisted recumbent bike

Dani Burt | San Diego, CA

Dani was riding down Mount Palomar on her motorcycle in 2004 when a deceptive turn in the road caused her to lose control of her bike. She was thrown 20 feet into the air and 45 feet down the mountainside. Dani fractured her neck (non-displaced at C6), broke all of her ribs and left humorous, ruptured her spleen, her lungs collapsed, and she smashed her tibia and fibula on her right leg. She was placed in a drug-induced coma for 45 days. While in a coma, she developed gangrene in her knee and Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome in her lungs. Once her leg was amputated, her body was able to focus on healing her lungs.

Two weeks later, she was ready to progress to the next step; rehabilitation at Sharp Memorial Hospital. While in inpatient rehab, Challenged Athletes Foundation (CAF) stopped by the hospital to tell her about potential opportunities as an adaptive athlete.

Since that initial meeting with CAF, she has foused her entire recovery to be based in the ocean, High Fives is providing her with the funds to cover the entry into adaptive surf contests. She has set the goal of winning gold at the 2017 International Surfing Association’s World Adaptive Surfing Championships.


High Fives provided in September 2017, 2017 program/competition fees for surfing season

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Pablo Villarreal | National City, CA

Pablo is a through the knee left leg amputee. His accident occurred while driving his dual sport motorcycle in Baja. According to reports, he was hit to some degree by a semi truck trailer. The crash changed his life for ever.

Pablo’s goal is to continue to enjoy life and prove to himself that he can continue to participate in life to the fullest through action sports. Since his injury, Pablo has really found a love in skiing. A pass to local mountains around him will really allow him to get out and do what he loves with his family.

High Fives provided in September 2017, Season pass for Vail Resorts

Ryan Butcher | Los Alamitos, CA

Ryan was a passenger in a car accident. He worked seasonally as a snowboarding instructor and as an active travel guide. He was en route from working the winter season in Jackson Hole, Wyoming and headed to California before he starting his season as a travel guide. He fell asleep in the car while his father was driving and the car rolled off the freeway in Utah. The accident left Ryan paralyzed from the shoulders down.

Ryan is determined to recover as much as possible. He has been working really hard to become as independent as he can. He is currently focusing on adaptive sports that he might like to pursue and this winter a grant from High Fives will give him the opportunity to experience adaptive skiing through Achieve Tahoe.


High Fives provided in September 2017, Lessons from Achieve Tahoe


Jason Abraham | Alpine Meadows, CA

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 2015 ski season. 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 with excessive speed. Toward the bottom of Main Chute Jason caught an edge and was flung on his back. The impact resulted in a burst fractured C6 vertebrae causing temporary paralysis from the shoulders down.

Jason’s goal is to get back to enjoying Tahoe the way he did before his accident. Jason has a 6-year-old son named Ebbett, and his long-term goal is to ski with his son on a regular basis again.

Jason has been working tirelessly in the CR Johnson Healing Center, and he’s making serious progress. He currently works with the Squaw Valley media team, but continues his training at the CR Johnson Healing Center on a regular basis.

Pairing massage with his rigorous training schedule is imperative to ensure that Jason is ready for next day, whether it’s in the office or the gym.

High Fives provided in September 2017, Massage from Karen Stubbs

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