Andrew Kurka received grant funding to help him continue on his Paralympic path
The High Fives Foundation’s Winter Empowerment program service disburses board-approved grants to disabled athletes participating in winter adaptive sports. In September, the Foundation’s Board of Directors Grant Selection Committee approved a grant for Winter Empowerment Athlete Andrew Kurka totaling $1,845.
The September 2014 grant for $1,845 awarded to Kurka will be used toward the purchase of race skis from Volkl and race bindings from Marker.
In 2005, 13-year-old Kurka of Palmer, Alaska suffered a spinal cord injury while touring with friends on ATV’s. Kurka crashed his ATV resulting in a burst fracture to his T-12 vertebrae, leaving him partially paralyzed from the waist down.
Just two years after Kurka’s injury, he went skiing with his physical therapist and Challenge Alaska in Girdwood. Kurka was immediately hooked, and has since gone on to create an impressive career as a ski racer. He is a current member of the United States Adaptive Alpine Ski Team, and made it to Sochi, Russia for the 2014 Paralympic Games. Pairing nicely with his impressive winter sports resume, Andrew is also a successful radio personality for Morris Communications’ 100.9 – Country Legends.
Kurka received his first board-approved grant in September 2012 for $2,475 for Volkl skis. In September 2013, he received a grant for $8,440 to be used toward a KBG mono-ski, Volkl skis and Marker bindings. The September 2014 board-approved grant for $1,845 to be used toward Volkl skis which brings the grant total to $13,160 in the three years that Kurka has been an athlete of the High Fives Foundation.
Since the organization’s January 2009 inception, the Winter Empowerment program service has assisted 65 athletes from 19 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 has set a budget of disbursing $196,000 via board-approved grants through the Winter Empowerment Fund. Thus far in 2014, 26 High Fives Athletes and two organizations have been awarded a sum of 30 board-approved grants for a total of $210,000.
In the month of September the High Fives Foundation distributed funds to ten Winter Empowerment Athletes: Jasmin Bambur of Granby, Colo., John Supon of Denver, Colo., Luke Eckenberg of Temperance, Mich., Ezra McPhail of Duluth, Minn., Landon McGauley of Quesnel, BC, Josh Dueck of Vernon, BC, Danielle Watson of Bend, Ore., Lyndsay Slocumb of Reno, Nev., Marcus Reddish of Stevenville, Mont. and Andrew Kurka of Palmer, Alaska. The Foundation’s Board of Directors Grant Selection Committee approved a total of $32,881.77 to be used toward the Healing Network, Programs, Travel, Winter Equipment and Adaptive Equipment funding categories.