Tahoe City Big Mountain Skier Reef Schott Joins High Fives Ambassador Program To Raise Over $12,000 For Injured Athletes
Schott is one of six Winter Action Sports Ambassadors leading a new pledge program for the High Fives Foundation
Since 2009, High Fives Foundation Executive Director Roy Tuscany has been giving presentations to young skiers and snowboarders across the country, spreading awareness and inspiration for mountain action sports athletes who have suffered life-altering injuries. The High Fives Foundation gives grant funding towards their recoveries.
After his presentations, students are “stoked” to take home stickers and swag in support of the cause. However, inevitably, aspiring competitive skiers and snowboarders ask, “Can High Fives sponsor me?”
The clear answer has always been no. “We’ve had to tell a lot of kids, you don’t want to be a High Fives Athlete,” said Roy Tuscany. “That would require sustaining a major injury.”
However, in 2014, 12-year-old Griffin MacFadyen of Dover, VT presented a different approach to the whole “sponsor me” scheme. Griffin, who is a decorated competitive snowboarder on the national level, took the voluntary initiative to begin reaching out to his family, friends, coaches and schools asking for pledges for the High Fives Foundation if he placed well in each snowboarding competition.
“Griff’s Pledge,” as it came to be known, took off, as did Griffin’s success in competition, all the while representing the Foundation logo on his boards and helmets. In 2014, Griffin raised $2,161 for the High Fives Foundation by himself.
The inventive reverse-sponsorship platform caught the eye of his friends and family, then local and national media outlets like Transworld Business. Soon it piqued the interest of the same athletes Griffin was competing against and other competitive winter action sports athletes from other disciplines.
The High Fives Foundation worked with Griffin in the off-season to develop a replication of the program for competitive skiers and snowboarders across the country. “Griff’s Pledge” suddenly became formally known as the Winter Action Sports Ambassador Program – allowing skiers and snowboarders to leverage their hard work and achievement to bring positivity into the world of winter action sports. This is the first program of its kind from the High Fives Foundation.
Throughout the 2015 winter season, six committed skiers and snowboarders began their pledge process just like Griffin did the year before. Each individual Ambassador was given a profile page on the High Fives Foundation website displaying photos, videos and sponsors. Pledges were listed in recognition for their support.
In all, the program raised $12,333 for the High Fives Foundation from 92 individual donors.
“We piloted this Ambassador program with no idea of how successful it would be,” said High Fives Foundation Social Media Manger Becca Lefanowicz. “We were all blown away by how well these kids did in competition and how that translated into donations for High Fives Athletes.”
The Ambassadors competed in skiing and snowboarding events on the local, regional and national level. They come from various mountain communities in New England to the Rockies to the Sierras and beyond.
“I enjoy going into the Healing Center in Truckee and seeing the High Fives Athletes who the Ambassadors actually are helping,” said Reef Schott, a 17-year-old big mountain skier from Tahoe City, Calif.
“Griffin told me about it, and I thought it was great that I could help people just by doing something I already loved, “ said Ambassador snowboarder Tim McCall, 12, from Watertown, Mass. “My parents and teachers thought it was awesome, too.”
Another Ambassador, 16-year-old big mountain skier Jackson Chou from Redwood, Calif. chose to join the initiative because his sister, Elia Chou, suffered a traumatic brain injury while skiing in 2006 at Alpine Meadows.
“I wear the High Fives gear in races when I compete to promote them and show the importance of safety,” Jackson told The Redwood Bark, his school paper.