The Winter Empowerment Fund is a program service of the High Fives Non-Profit Foundation that provides support for alternative healing and therapies, rehabilitative and adaptive equipment to athletes that suffer a life altering injury while pursuing a dream in the winter action sports community. Funds are allocated to assist disabled athletes in the recovery process and help achieve goals in the sports they love. Landon McGauley and Sally Francklyn are both grant recipients of the Winter Empowerment Fund. Recently, Sally interviewed Landon…
Landon McGauley had a mountain biking accident in 2010, so he is one of High Five’s Winter Empowerment Athletes, but he doesn’t let his injury affect his outlook. While he doesn’t plan on competing in the Sochi Paralympics, Paralympics are still in his plans. We found out his upcoming goals for skiing, and his overall perspective.
(Sally Francklyn): Who are you, as an athlete?
(Landon McGauley): I am 18 years old, and ski everyday I can. I work hard on off-season and off-snow training to stay in the best shape for races. The reason I’m different than most 18 year old skiers is that I am doing it all in a sit-ski, due to a spinal cord injury that I suffered in 2010 on my mountain bike.
(SF): Do you plan on skiing in the Sochi Paralympics?
(LM): I would love to ski in the 2014 Paralympics! However, I still have a bit of work to do before I am at the Olympic level. It is definitely a goal that I am actively striving for, but I’m just not ready for the upcoming Paralympics in 2014.
(SF): How has High Fives Foundation positively affected your life?
(LM): There isn’t enough time in the day for me to be able to completely explain how beneficially High Fives has affected my life. I first met with them when I was flown to Tahoe. Since the first meeting, they haven’t stopped or slowed down the support they’ve given me. Because of High Fives Foundation, I completely believe that I am much farther ahead in my emotional, physical and spiritual health then I would be without them. I go out skiing, and feel completely free because they chose to donate sit-ski specific lessons and a sit-ski to help with my recovery and to get me doing something I loved so much before my injury. That’s only one of the many ways they’ve positively affected my life.
(SF): What makes you the happiest?
(LM): I feel happiest when I am skiing. As soon as I get in my sit-ski, I don’t feel any different from anyone else on the mountain- I can go anywhere. The feeling of scaring yourself and pushing your own limits is the coolest thing I think you can do on skis. Whether it’s on the race course, in the park or anywhere on the mountain, skiing is the best feeling.
(SF): What are your goals-in the winter action sports community and life?
(LM): I really want to make it to the Olympics, and I’ll hopefully have some success at such an elite stage. I just always want to keep skiing and keep having such an amazing time with all the great people I’ve met through the winter sport community- I’m lucky enough to call them my friends. I want to be able to somehow return some of the positivity and stoke that High Fives has given me.