Empowerment Grant from High Fives Foundation continues to help Mike Schwarz in his recovery from a life-altering injury

Schwarz will attend therapeutic equine assisted riding program in Springfield VT to gain flexibility, coordination and independence

#highfivesathlete Mike Schwarz
#highfivesathlete Mike Schwarz

The High Fives Foundation is awarding 27-year-old Mike Schwarz an Empowerment Grant for sessions of Equine Therapy to help him with his recovery from a traumatic brain injury he sustained in a snowboarding accident in March 2009.

#HighFivesAthlete Schwarz STOKED! | Photo Courtesy Schwarz
#HighFivesAthlete Schwarz STOKED! | Photo Courtesy Schwarz

While attending his Senior year at University of Vermont, Schwarz crashed while competing in a quarter pipe snowboarding championship. He was in a coma for many weeks, diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury. He spent the next year in a rehab hospital recovering in the gym, the pool and the recumbent bike. Since the injury, Schwarz has gained back most of his living skills and is enjoying the positive growth his custom sock business El SchwarEZ Designs.

#HighFivesAthlete Schwarz w/ his El SchwarEZ Designs socks | Photo Courtesy Schwarz
#HighFivesAthlete Schwarz w/ his El SchwarEZ Designs socks | Photo Courtesy Schwarz

His grant request in June for Equine Therapy was approved by the High Fives Foundation’s Board of Directors. He will ride at Dream On Curls Riding Center in Springfield, VT where spending time with horses will provide adaptive athletes like Schwarz physical, emotional, social, and cognitive challenges. Their staff and horses work together in case-specific lessons offering the opportunity to experience achievement, joy and community.

Michael Schwarz w/ father #HighFivesAthlete | Photo Courtesy High Fives
Michael Schwarz w/ father, Fran #HighFivesAthlete | Photo Courtesy High Fives

“Therapeutic riding has been shown to be beneficial and increase flexibility, balance, coordination and body awareness,” Mike Schwarz told the High Fives Foundation. His story of recovery is shared in the 2014 High Fives Foundation B.A.S.I.C.S. Documentary, “#HelmetsAreCool.

Since the High Fives Foundation’s January 2009 inception, the Empowerment program service has assisted 85 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, 26 High Fives Athletes and two organizations have been awarded 40 board-approved grants totaling  $211,393.

In the month of June the High Fives Foundation disbursed $30,194 in board-approved grants to nine athletes.

June Empowerment Athletes:
Jamie Crane-Mauzy from Salt Lake City, Utah.
Bond Camp from Breckenridge, Colo.
Megan Wemmer from Boulder, Colo.
Nick Fairall from Andover, N.H.
Kevin Cheung from San Francisco, Calif.
Mike Schwarz from Chester, VT.
Jim Harris from Salt Lake City, Utah
Aaron Baker from Northridge, Calif.
Josh Dueck from Vernon, British Columbia

Leave a Comment