Impact: High Fives Foundation

California / Aug. 15, 2012 / by Amy
Impact: High Fives Foundation

When skier Roy Tuscany, from Truckee, CA, had an accident while skiing in April 2006, he was left with severe damage to his back. He explains that he “suffered a life-altering injury when I burst fractured my T-12 vertebrae from overshooting a jump on my skis at Mammoth Mountain.”

The injury resulted in paralysis from the waist down and the need for many surgical procedures. With previously high hopes of becoming a professional skier, Tuscany was now forced to learn everything again, learning to walk again before he could even consider skiing. 

All was not lost, however. “After years of recovery that was funded by generous donations by individuals in the Tahoe, Sugarbowl Ski Team, and Mad River Valley communities I was able to return to the ski slopes in 2008,” he explains. 

His recovery was achieved thanks to the help from his community so “throughout my recovery, I would always write ‘thank you’ cards to the people that donated to my recovery fund.”

This simple act turned into something much larger than thank-you cards when “over time I realized I needed to pay-it-forward” and it sparked the creation of the High Fives Foundation “to help athletes that fell into the same shoes as I did in 2006,” he explains. 

Started in early 2009, the High Fives Foundation is now in its third year and has already “granted over $300,000 to 21 athletes through the Winter Empowerment Fund.” The nonprofit as a whole is “dedicated to raising money and awareness for athletes that suffer life-altering injuries while pursuing a dream in the winter action sports community.” 

There are three main branches to High Fives. The Winter Empowerment Fund “provides support for alternative healing and therapies, rehabilitative and adaptive equipment to athletes that suffer a life altering injury while pursuing a dream in the winter action sports community,” says Tuscany. “Funds are allocated to assist disabled athletes in the recovery process and help achieve goals in the sports they love.”

The second service is the B.A.S.I.C.S., which stands for “Being Aware Safe In Crazy Situations.” This is a program that aims to prevent as many injuries as possible from happening in the first place and is “designed to promote safety and awareness through world-class fundamentals coaching of action sports athletes.”

Thirdly, there is the CR Johnson Healing Center, which is a center that provides resources including “physical therapy, acupuncture, massage, personal training and more” for those athletes who are recovering from sports-related injuries. 

Tuscany has high hopes for the future. “We already set the World Record for the most High Fives in a 24-hour period so now we want to become the Livestrong for the action sports community like they are for the cancer community,” he says.

But there are always challenges. Tuscany explains that, “now that we have grown so much in a short period time [the biggest challenge] is being able to fund all the requests we get for grants from our Winter Empowerment Fund.” 

They’ve already achieved a great deal, however, and will continue to help as many people as they can, spurred on by the prospect of helping more and more athletes with the help of those around him, “the best community that really never lets anyone down.”

Tuscany proves that with the support of the community, people can recover from terrible accidents and return to the sports they love. His dedication to helping those in situations similar to that he was in six years ago is clear from the impact High Fives Foundation has had on the community. 

“Seeing the athletes of High Fives smile from the positive support that we give to them” is one of the biggest rewards, says Tuscany. “Through the experiences of High Fives I have seen our reach / impact positively influence athletes, families, and communities. It is a blessing to be able to go to work each day and supply positive energy to our community.”

You can find out more about the High Fives Foundation and donate to them on their website and Facebook page, and you can see a video of Roy’s first time back on the slopes after his recovery here.