TRUCKEE, Calif. — The High Fives Foundation’s Winter Empowerment program disburses board-approved grants to disabled winter action sports athletes participating in winter adaptive sports or athletes recovering from a life-altering injury. In April and May, the Foundation’s Board of Directors Grant Selection Committee approved three grants for three athletes totaling over $28,000.
In May 2014, the High Fives Foundation disbursed a board-approved grant for $25,000 to Washington native, Jocelyn Judd. This marks the single largest grant to date, to a Winter Empowerment Athlete since the Foundation’s inception in 2009. Previously, the Winter Empowerment Fund’s largest disbursed grants were $19,999 (to Dominic Prado for a Restorative Therapies FES Bike), $13,000 (to Michael Schwarz for two Bioness L300 Foot Drop Systems), and $12,000 (to Cody Walker for in-patient physical therapy at the University of Utah).
Of the three athletes to receive board-approved grants in April and May 2014, one has previously been awarded grants through the Winter Empowerment Fund and two new athletes (Jeff Andrews and Jocelyn Judd) have been welcomed into the High Fives Foundation Family, as the 58th and 59th athletes.
This grant cycle marks the largest grant approved by the Foundation’s Grant Approval Committee and brings the total number of Winter Empowerment Fund athletes assisted to 59 athletes from 18 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 set a budget of disbursing $196,000 via board-approved grants through the Winter Empowerment Fund. Thus far, ten High Fives Athletes and two organizations have been awarded a sum of thirteen board-approved grants for a totaling close to $100,000.
Learn more about these athletes who have been awarded grants via the Winter Empowerment Fund in April and May 2014: Jeff Andrews of Truckee, California; Brandon Pitzer of Portland, Oregon; and, Jocelyn Judd of Randle, Washington.
Jeff Andrews suffered a C6 burst fracture with associated spinal cord injury and transverse process fractures at the L1, L2, and L3 levels, resulting in quadriplegia at the C5-C7 level in a snowboarding accident that occurred at Sugar Bowl Resort in Norden, California, on March 15, 2014. Jeff’s goal is to become as independent as his condition will permit and return to the most active lifestyle possible. Jeff is currently adjusting to the adversity with an infectious smile and positive attitude.
In April 2014, Jeff received a board-approved grant for over $1,000 to be used toward massage and acupuncture at Craig Hospital in Englewood, Colorado, and a six-month supply of healing supplements – all items not covered by his insurance carrier.
Brandon Pitzer had previously spent a lot of his time in the Mt. Hood area chasing a professional ski dream. In May 2013 that dream came to a halt when Brandon under rotated a double backflip while skiing at Timberline Lodge, Oregon, resulting in compression fractures of his T11 and T12 vertebrae. Initially, Brandon had feeling and motor function and it wasn’t until after surgery to repair his spine that Brandon became paralyzed.
Brandon was awarded a board-approved grant in December 2013 and has seen some real gains from the treatment that High Fives has provided funding for. His physical therapist loves working with him and says he has an infectious personality, and is always willing to go the extra mile. This board-approved grant is the third awarded to Brandon.
May Winter Empowerment Grant for Brandon Pitzer: over $2,000 for personal training, physical therapy and acupuncture.
Hearing about the organization through the ski industry, Jocelyn Judd reached out to the High Fives Foundation on April 29, 2014 from the ICU at Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center following her April 19, 2014 ski injury sustained at Grand Targhee Resort in Alta, Wyoming. Jocelyn suffered paralysis at the C5 vertebra level along with dislocating and fracturing her right hip after over-rotating a backflip on her last run of the season at the Wyoming ski resort.
The Judd Family, working along side social workers, were told by Jocelyn’s insurance company that only 22 days of physical therapy would be covered by her plan. This left the Judd Family less than optimistic in Jocelyn’s admission to the world renown Spinal Center, Craig Hospital in Englewood, Colorado. Upon hearing this news, the High Fives Foundation contacted Craig Hospital, negotiated a deal and provided a board-approved grant for $25,000 to be used toward the admissions deposit.
May Winter Empowerment Grant for Jocelyn Judd: $25,000 for in-patient rehabilitation at Craig Hospital in Englewood, Colorado, with a $25,000 match by the Judd Family to cover the admissions deposit.
High Fives Foundation is a Tahoe-based, national 501.c.3 non-profit organization dedicated to raising money and awareness for athletes who have suffered a life-altering injury while pursuing their dream in the winter action sports community. Formed as a way to “pay-it-forward” by the founder from his own recovery to help injured athletes, the Foundation has helped 59 athletes to date since its inception in 2009. For more information visit www.highfivesfoundation.org.
Miriam Hodgman is originally from San Francisco. She previously was the communications coordinator for the largest hunger-relief organization in Sonoma County, California. She has a bachelor’s degree in American history, with a minor in American Indian studies, from San Francisco State University, and has a master’s degree in public administration from Sonoma State University. She enjoys training a variety of martial arts.