High Fives Foundation athlete's dream takes flight

Published: Apr. 4, 2018 at 5:08 PM PDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

For more than a year, Keenan Weischedel has been sitting in a wheelchair. But Wednesday morning, he got to sit in a single-engine Cessna as pilot Tal Fletcher gave him a private tour of the mountains below.

"I was so sick of staring up just because I'm always the shortest person everywhere and you look at mountains all the time and I just wanted to look down at things," says Weischedel, who recently moved to Reno from Vermont, in part because he wanted to be closer to these mountains.

The 23-year-old says he began skiing when he was about two years old. It was his favorite thing to do. But 16 months ago, he got into an accident on the slopes that changed his life.

"I just ended up hitting the wrong patch of snow or something. I double-ejected and landed on my neck and broke my C7 and left me an incomplete quadrapalegic," he says.

But Weischedel never lost his passion for skiing. In fact, he works at Squaw Valley, where he gets to see the mountains each day, but never the top. His dream of getting a bird's-eye view of the mountains would never have taken flight if it weren't for the

, a 2018 KOLOCares Pillar Partner, which has been providing inspiration and resources for Keenan's recovery.

Its staff got in touch with Fletcher, who says this is his favorite part of flying.

"Most of his questions were what's this, what's that," says Fletcher. "He would point to stuff. A lot of stuff that he saw, he recognized but not from that perspective."

"We all got to be inspired by Keenan and his experience," says Tess Vertin, Grant Writer for High Fives Foundation.

High Fives Foundation is also changing Weischedel's perspective as an athlete. It's played a big role in getting him involved in sports he never would have tried before.

"In one month I'm going surfing with them in San Clemente and I've never gone adaptive surfing or surfing in my whole life, so I'm just over the moon about that," says Weischedel. "I cannot wait."