Luke Eckenberg & Ezra McPhail received grant funding to help them achieve their winter action-sports goals
The High Fives Foundation’s Winter Empowerment program service disburses board-approved grants to winter action sports who are recovering from a life-altering injury. In September, the Foundation’s Board of Directors Grant Selection Committee approved two grants for Winter Empowerment Athletes Luke Eckenberg & Ezra McPhail totaling $3,614.
The September 2014 grant for $2,409 awarded to Eckenberg will be used toward massage, Acupuncture, travel and lessons at Disabled Sports USA Far West at Alpine Meadows in Tahoe City, Calif. Luke is a first time grant recipient of the Foundation.
Eckenberg was snowboarding with a group of friends at a local Michigan mountain in January 2011, when his friends and he ventured into the terrain park. Eckenberg carried too much speed off the first jump and found himself off balance in the air. Completely off axis, Eckenberg landed directly on his back, burst fracturing his T-12 and L-1 vertebras. The crash left the teenager paralyzed from the waist down.
Following his 2011 injury, Eckenberg has maintained a positive attitude and has not let his injury keep him from living the life of a typical high school student. Growing up snowboarding, Eckenberg has recently been drawn to adaptive skiing. His brother currently lives in Lake Tahoe, Calif. and Eckenberg routinely visits him with the goal of eventually heading West and skiing the beautiful Sierra Mountain range on a regular basis.
The September 2014 grant for $1,205 awarded to McPhail will be used toward the purchase of a POC ski helmet, travel and lessons at Disabled Sports USA – Far West at Alpine Meadows in Tahoe City, Calif. Ezra is a first time grant recipient of the Foundation.
Growing up in Duluth, Minn., McPhail had dreams of receiving a scholarship to play hockey in college. In December 2011, McPhail was playing in a hockey tournament with his club team when an opposing player checked him into the boards. The impact broke McPhail’s back, resulting in a spinal cord injury at the T-5/6 level. The young hockey player’s dreams of receiving a college scholarship were immediately put on hold.
Following his 2011 injury, McPhail has maintained a positive attitude and not let his injury keep him from being active and participating in the sports he loves. He has recently found the sport of adaptive skiing and made many trips to ski mountains in the Midwest.
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.