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Grant for rugby wheelchair enables UNR student to excel in new sport

By Miriam Hodgman

10639417_755958167798622_4298857895677739538_nThe High Fives Foundation’s Winter Empowerment program disburses board-approved grants to winter action sports athletes who are recovering from a life-altering injury. In September, Winter Empowerment Athlete Lyndsay Slocumb,  a 21-year-old university student, was awarded a grant for an adaptive rugby wheelchair.

The $6,361 grant enables to Slocumb to purchase a Melrose Kiwi adaptive rugby wheelchair. It is the first grant that Slocumb has received from the High Fives Foundation.

During a March 2007 ski race at Boreal Mountain Resort in Soda Spings, California, 14-year-old Slocumb ventured into the terrain park with some fellow race team members. She was not one to usually enter the park, and was admittedly not prepared. Slocumb carried too much speed off the first jump, overshot the landing and fell from over 30 feet landing on her neck and back.

The force from the crash stopped her heart and she was immediately flown to Renown Hospital in Reno, Nevada, where her family was told that she had suffered a traumatic brain injury, a cervical spinal cord injury and internal damages to her kidney, pancreas, spleen, lungs and multiple vertebrae.

The traumatic brain injury that Slocumb sustained left her in a medically induced coma for nearly four weeks. When she awoke she had to relearn many daily activities. She and her family have poured all of their energy and resources into her recovery, and she has made an inspiring and incredible recovery.

Slocumb is now 21-years-old and currently enrolled in the University of Nevada, Reno. She continues to make daily strides toward living a completely independent life. In September, Slocumb received a board-approved grant for $6,361 to be used toward a custom Melrose Kiwi rugby wheelchair. The custom chair will allow Slocumb to excel in her new sport.

Growing up as a skier, recreation has always been a large part of Slocumb’s life. She has recently discovered wheelchair rugby and really enjoys the camaraderie that the team sport provides. Slocumb has been playing with the Reno Storm Quadrugby Team and using a one size-fits-all “loner” rugby wheelchair.

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.

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 65 athletes to date since its inception in 2009. For more information visit www.highfivesfoundation.org.

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