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Spotlight: High Fives Foundation

Spotlight: High Fives Foundation

This Truckee-based nonprofit organization helps people whose lives have been forever changed by injury.

It’s not about getting your old life back. It’s about reminding you that your new life can still be great. “Life will never be the same. But it can still be awesome, says Roy Tuscany, founder and executive director of the High Fives Foundation, a nonprofit adaptive sports organization based in Truckee, California, that helps get severely injured athletes back into the outdoors and works to prevent serious injuries from happening in the first place.

In 2006, Tuscany flew off a jump in the terrain park at Mammoth Mountain, California. He fractured his T12 vertebra, compromising his spinal cord by 45 percent, and doctors told him he may never walk again. A year later, he was back on his feet, and two years after his accident, he was on skis using pole outriggers. “We went skiing and I was like, ‘OK, it’s now time to transition my focus, to stop looking back and start looking to the next steps’,” Tuscany recalls. But the logistics of living with injury was challenging: There was the high cost of adaptive equipment, the long timeline of rehabilitation, the lack of support groups. Tuscany wondered, how do other people in this situation deal with all of this?

So, in 2009, he formed the High Fives Foundation to offer resources to people like him who’d suffered traumatic, mobility-limiting injuries. The organization gives out grants to financially assist outdoor athletes with serious injuries, and it also offers a group of people who understand, a family of sorts that can be there when times feel hard.

Since its inception, the organization has given out over $7 million in grant money to some 600 recovering athletes across the U.S. and Canada (including nearly $2 million in 2022 alone). “In the simplest terms, these programs allow individuals with disabilities the opportunity to enjoy sports in a safe, fun, and exhilarating way,” Tuscany has said. “These programs provide incredible results with positive impacts on the athletes’ lives, getting them back out to the sports they love.”

One of those grant recipients is a guy named Alex Duff—featured in this video, made in partnership with Flylow. (As an independent company that prioritizes living life on our own terms, nothing gives us more satisfaction than helping people get back out there to take back the things they love.)

Duff was an active mountain biker who crashed while riding his bike in the Auburn Bike Park in May 2020 and was severely injured. Eventually, he was able to return to his bike. “I couldn’t walk, but I said screw it. I somehow crawled on the bike and pedaled around a little bit,” Duff says in the video. “It was a victory of claiming who I am and who I wanted to be. I was alive in the way I wanted to be, not in the way my situation dictated.”

“The guy is the definition of adapt and destroy,” Tuscany says about Duff. “He got to fall back in love with something that he thought he lost.”

High Fives raises 60 percent of its funds through individual donors, plus additional support from fundraisers, grants, and memberships. Nearly 70 percent of the money raised goes back out the door. Learn more about how you can support the High Fives Foundation. Flylow partners with non-profit organizations like High Fives through our Good Lab Collection

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