High Fives supports a vast array of Athletes who have overcome a wide-spanning range of injuries. Sometimes the trauma is invisible to the naked eye.
While many Athlete injuries are visible, such as paralysis from a spinal cord injury, High Fives also supports Athletes with injuries that are not as visibly apparent as wheelchairs or missing limbs. Along with severe injuries, PTSD and depression are common unfortunate symptoms that affect many of those whom we rely on to keep us safe and out of harm’s way. Veterans and first responders are often hit the hardest.
Chris Muscle represents both of those things, and is a testament for the statement: Just because you can’t immediately see someone’s symptoms, does not mean that they are not there. Throughout his years of service in the United States Marine Corps, and as a firefighter and paramedic, Chris lived through experiences that made their mark on him, both physically and mentally.
Chris discovered running as a way of coping with the Post-Traumatic Stress that he was feeling. Running provided him with an escape and a way to cope with all that he had witnessed while serving his country and community.
Unfortunately, a back surgery he desperately needed kept him from vigorous activity. without the ability to run, memories of losing friends came rushing back.
Without running, memories of losing friends came rushing back. This pushed Chris into a dark space.
This is where the Adaptive Training Foundation (ATF) in Texas and High Fives Foundation came into the picture. ATF put Chris through a rigorous training regime with a group of like-minded veterans. The rigorous training improved his fitness and strength, while this new-found community healed him from the inside, out. Additionally, through ATF, Chris was connected with High Fives Foundation.
As a reward for his hard work at ATF, Chris was selected to participate in the inaugural Colorado Military to the Mountains event. From his first time on snow, you could see the light return to his eyes. Skiing provided relief, much like running once had. Chris immediately connected with the High Fives staff and expressed his interest in coming to Tahoe with his family to hang out at the CR Johnson Healing Center at our home office, wanting to ski, bike, and participate in all the outdoor activity that the California sun had to offer.
Luckily I had such a tribe and a support network through my friends, through my family, colleagues, and especially ATF and High Fives, I was luckily able to stop before it got to that point.
True to his word, Chris showed up in Truckee, California, with his two sons and supportive wife. The plan was to make the absolute most of his time in California. Skis were waxed up, bike chains were greased, and it was on!
“The Muscles” were able to capitalize and many high fives and hugs were shared. The stoke was high throughout their time as they spent days biking, skiing, and just being a family again after some tough years. We feel very fortunate to be a part of both Chris’s individual recovery and the Muscles recovery as a whole.
“Watching Muscle’s progress in just five days of skiing was a true sign of his dedication and passion to everything in his life. With the support of his family there with him he was right at home in the mountains!” says Jesse Murphy, High Five Foundation’s Director of Development who was there to witness the growth of Chris throughout his time in both Colorado and California.
We are very proud of Chris, for his internal and external journey, and can’t wait to shred with his family again.