Skier Kevin Yolken suffered a severe spinal cord injurywhile skiing five years ago in Chile. He lost movement and feeling in his legs and was unable to walk. He has since achieved an almost complete recovery, after facing a handful of even more disastrous circumstances. His next triumphant act will be to bicycle along 1500 miles of Pacific Coastline to inspire and raise money for other winter sports athletes with injuries similar to his own, a Utah Park Record article reported.
Yolken suffered his spinal cord injury while free-skiing. He attempted a jump off a cliff over which he thought there would be a cushion of newly fallen snow. Instead, he landed on sheer ice, lost control, and crashed. After that, he lost all feeling in his legs and realized his back was broken. Luckily, Yolken’s spinal cord injury was incomplete, so he retained the ability to one-day walk again.
After weeks of physical therapy and rehabilitation in Santa Clara, California, Yolken regained some movement and sensation in both of his legs. Eventually, he was able to stand and walk without the aid of crutches. Once he stood up out of his wheelchair, he never sat back down in one again. After he returned to skiing in 2006, Yolken crashed again and broke his leg. Today, he has no calf strength in his left leg, the article reported.
Even with his injuries, Yolken went to Hawaii and learned to surf on Oahu’s north shore, where the waves can reach over 30 feet high. He broke his left heel twice and endured surgery for a heel laceration in Hawaii, the article said. Even after all of his accidents, Yolken skied more than 100 days of last winter’s ski season in Truckee, CA.
In order to share his iron will and fortitude with other unfortunate injury victims, Yolken has completed two fundraising bike rides for the Kelly Brush Foundation to generate funds for spinal cord injury research. Most recently, Yolken teamed up with an old friend, Chelsea Laswell, who he met at the Winter Sports School in Park City, Utah to help her fulfill a lifelong dream of bicycling down the Pacific Coast.
The pair biked from Seattle to San Diego in conjunction with Biking For a Better World to raise funds for the High Fives Foundation. The group provides scholarships, donations, and grants to injured winter sports athletes, the article reported.
Piper, Matthew. (April 6, 2010) ‘Skier hopes to inspire others with Pacific Coast bike ride.’ Retrieved on April 14, 2010 from the Park Record Web site:http://www.parkrecord.com/summit_county-sports/ci_14831581