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The High Fives Foundation is Changing Lives One Athlete at a Time

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Following a life-altering injury, professional skier Roy Tuscany was determined to continue doing what he loved. Through perseverance and the incredible support of his community, Roy got back on the mountain. Desiring to inspire others to do the same, he founded the High Fives Foundation in 2009.  He began helping injured athletes and veterans enjoy the healing power of the outdoors with the sports they love. High Fives is helping athletes get the adaptive equipment and training they need to defy the odds and encourage others.    

A Life-Changing Injury Becomes a Beacon of Hope 

High Fives Foundation

Roy Tuscany was at the pinnacle of his professional skiing career when a risky jump changed his life forever. One wrong landing and Roy’s lower body was paralyzed as a vertebrae burst fracture compromised 45% of his spinal cord. What could have been a devastating end to his career, Roy took in stride as he set out towards recovery. Rather than being wrought with pain and heartache, Roy recalls his long road to recovery being marked by unwavering positivity and countless high fives.  

Nearly two years after the initial incident, Roy found himself in one of the most pivotal moments of his life. Against all odds, Roy’s perseverance gave him the courage to hit the slopes again. In 2008, he found himself back on the mountain, riding up the ski lift. Although the sport he grew to love would never be the same again, Roy was determined not to give up. As he was adjusting and learning a new way to get down the mountain, inspiration was growing within him   

“The cheers of encouragement and the camaraderie he experienced during his recovery became the seeds of inspiration for something greater. Fueled by a desire to extend a helping hand to others facing similar obstacles, Roy founded the High Fives Foundation in 2009.” Based out of Truckee, California, this national 501(c)(3) non-profit organization strives to help athletes come back from spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injuries, and other life-altering conditions. Through the avenues of financial support, emotional encouragement, and a supportive community, the High Fives Foundation is a beacon of hope. 

High Fives Foundation at Winter Gala

The High Fives Foundation is On a Mission to Create a Universal Shift in Adventure Sports 

“The foundation thrives on the simple yet powerful act of a ‘High Five,’ symbolizing not just a physical gesture but a commitment to support athletes through their recovery journey. It stands not just as a charity organization but as a living narrative of overcoming adversity, transforming setbacks into comebacks, and proving that, with enough determination and community support, any summit can be conquered.” 

After experiencing all the love and support he received throughout his recovery journey, Roy wanted to pay it forward. The High Fives Foundation was a way to ensure other injured athletes and Veterans would be offered the same support. Their team is striving to expand the limits of what’s possible for those recovering from life-changing injuries and, in turn, create a universal shift in adventure sports.  

Adaptive Athlete Surfs with the High Fives Foundation

High Fives’ education and programs spread awareness for injury prevention and provide resources and hope when injuries occur. Through their five key pillars, the High Fives Foundation is taking the lead in education and recovering life-altering injuries. By focusing on human care, integrity, community, honesty, and kaizen (the Japanese philosophy of continuous improvement), High Fives is achieving their mission. 

High Fives Winter Gala

Since its inception in early 2009, High Fives has helped countless individuals get back to doing what they love. In the last 15 years, they’ve “raised funds, secured alternative treatments, aided in the recovery of hundreds of athletes across the nation, and launched campaigns around injury prevention.” While the lives of these injured athletes and Veterans will never be the same, the High Fives Foundation is showing them the endless possibilities that lie ahead. 

Expanding What is Possible for Injured Athletes 

In helping injured athletes and Veterans in recovery, the High Fives Foundation currently specializes in five different categories of outdoor, adventure sports.  


Through Roy Tuscany’s recovery journey, he learned there are countless opportunities for those with disabilities to enjoy the snow. Depending on the nature of the athlete’s injury, there are a variety of adaptations available for skiing and snowboarding 

For athletes with adequate balance and range of motion, small modifications to ski and snowboard gear can allow them to rip down the slope much like they did before. Whether an athlete can balance on two skis with small adaptations, needs three or four blades on the snow with handheld outriggers, or utilizes a ski frame for stability, there are plenty of ways to adapt to each unique need. 

Additionally, adaptive sit skis allow athletes with a smaller range of mobility to enjoy their time on the mountain. Many paralyzed athletes can continue skiing with various types of skis and ski bikes through independent support methods or the help of another skier.  

With so many options available, just about anyone can experience the thrill of the mountain. Through the help of therapists, instructors, family members, and programs at local ski resorts, the High Fives Foundation has “helped athletes with a range of visual impairments, amputations, cognitive and physical disabilities, developmental disabilities, and more get into adaptive snow sports.” 


“The healing power of the sea and swell is undeniable. And whether it’s the first time or a return to surfing after a life-altering injury, riding waves can be a powerful way to gain independence, self-confidence, and generally improve quality of life.” Although these athletes ride the waves a little differently, they still can experience the thrill of being on the water.     

Whether they’re using adaptive equipment to stand up, lay down, or sit on their boards, there are modifications available for every type of athlete. With recent advances in technology, “the International Surfing Association (ISA) has been promoting adaptive surfing since 2015.” As para surfing grows in popularity, spectators from across the country gather for the ISA World Adaptive Surfing Championship. Each year, these incredible and inspiring athletes take on massive waves. “The ISA continues to bid for adaptive surfing to be included in the Paralympics. The hope is for adaptive surfers to compete in the 2028 Tokyo summer games.” 

“Everyone can surf, no matter the mental and physical challenges.” The High Fives Foundation loves seeking out inclusivity in each sport and program they sponsor. Their team has been able to assist athletes with funding for adaptive surfing equipment, surfing lessons, and trips to world-class surfing locations. 

Mountain Bike 

When the snow melts, and temperatures rise, many avid skiers switch to a different mode of transportation to propel them down the mountain. Adaptive mountain biking is an incredible way for High Fives athletes to stay active during the summer months. Recent technological advancements have made mountain biking accessible to people with a wide range of abilities.  

Off-road handcycles allow riders to pedal with their hands, relying solely on their upper body strength and mobility. On the other hand, adaptive leg cycles, recumbent bikes, and trikes give athletes the ability to balance. They’re able to use their hands and legs to best suit their current abilities. Tandem bikes are driven by two people. This allows therapists and family members to pedal and steer for an athlete who otherwise wouldn’t be able to.   

No matter what bike an athlete uses to get down the mountain, the High Fives Foundation is there to help every step of the way. Whether they’re providing equipment, raising money, or organizing events, the High Fives team loves getting riders back on the mountain.  


Fly fishing is a favorite pastime of many avid outdoorsmen. Drawing athletes in with the peaceful tranquility of being out in nature and the thrill of the catch. The often-rugged terrain and challenge of throwing the perfect catch can stand in the way of athletes with different abilities. That’s where adaptive fly fishing comes in.    

Adaptive fly-fishing means giving the angler access to the river if there is adverse terrain and helping with casting and fly tying if necessary. Some adaptive fly fishers only have use of one hand, which requires a specialized spinning and casting fly rod.” 

The High Fives Foundation joins with disabled athletes to give them the opportunity to enjoy fly fishing. In addition to helping provide specialized equipment, the High Fives team helps put on therapeutic fly-fishing camps.  These camps give athletes the opportunity to experience the various mental and physical benefits of fly fishing.


For athletes with a need for speed, adaptive motocross is the perfect opportunity to chase an adrenaline rush. Various advancements in motorsport technology have given adaptive riders the ability to maneuver their vehicle in ways not previously possible. From specially equipped two-wheel bikes to the latest edition of four-wheel bikes, adaptive athletes love ripping the motocross trails.  

Pushing the limits of what is possible, a wide range of adaptive controls are available for motorcycles, ATVs, and UTVs that open the door for limited mobility drivers. “Electronic shifters, starters, and the clutch are moved to the handlebars to allow for accessibility. Custom cages have been built to keep the riders stationary. Vital motor controls are operated by adaptive riders with hands and even mouths.” 

High Fives Athletes at Motocross Race

Partnering alongside the Return to Dirt Foundation, High Fives organized the MotoDemption camp for adaptive motocross athletes. Whether they’re riding for the first time ever or getting back into the sport since their injury, these athletes fell in love with the speed and thrill that only motocross can provide.  

Programs that Inspire Hope and Create Change 

In addition to the countless athletes High Fives sponsors, they also have created a variety of programs to inspire hope. This allows them to help athletes purchase adaptive sports equipment, support rehabilitation, and make a difference in many other ways.  When a spinal cord injury, traumatic brain injury, amputation, or other mobility-limiting injury alters the life of an athlete, the High Fives Foundation uses the Empowerment Fund to provide support and resources. To date, this fund has helped almost 600 different athletes and Veterans across the US and Canada.  

High Fives' Adaptive Skier

Furthermore, the High Fives’ Military to the Mountains program provides extra support for veterans and first responders. Partnering with the Adaptive Training Foundation in Dallas, Texas, the City of Reno, Nevada, Palisades Tahoe & Granby Ranch, Colorado, wounded veterans and first responders have the opportunity to push through mental and physical boundaries on an all-expense paid trip to ski and snowboard. As previously mentioned, Return to Dirt is a High Fives program specifically dedicated to helping disabled individuals enjoy adaptive motorsports. These individuals receive the equipment and support necessary to experience the thrill of motocross.  

High Fives Foundation Event

While the other programs provide support after injuries, B.A.S.I.C.S (Being Aware Safe In Critical Situations) promotes smart decision-making and injury prevention for young athletes. This program teaches young skiers and snowboarders the best practices to keep themselves and others safe to avoid life-altering injuries. But, when these injuries happen, the High Fives Programs and CR Johnson Healing Center are available to aid in recovery and get athletes back to doing what they love. Along with these incredible programs, the Five for Fives partnerships allow a variety of brands to donate proceeds from sales to help the High Fives Foundation prolong its mission.  

Leading the Way Towards Recovery and Inclusivity with the High Fives Foundation 

High Fives Van in Front of Dragonfly Energy Facility

The High Fives Foundation is nothing short of extraordinary, and we can’t wait to partner alongside them. From outfitting an incredible van with Battle Born Batteries to joining them for events, we love supporting our local community and the work this incredible organization is doing.

Follow along with the High Fives Foundation as they impact athletes across the country with their events and programs. Keep up with them on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and TikTok. 

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