Silverthorne resident Trevor Giles moved to Summit County for the same reasons a lot of other people move here: the scenery and the active lifestyle.
Giles first came to Summit in 2005 for a ski vacation. As fate would have it, the town of Dillon was advertising for a utilities superintendent. Giles applied and won the job.
He moved his family to Silverthorne’s Willowbrook neighborhood shortly thereafter. By his own admission, Giles was overweight and out of shape when he arrived in the High Country, but he was determined to turn that aspect of his life around.
Already an avid skier, Giles developed a passion for bicycling and commuted nearly year-round from his home in Silverthorne to work, whether it be in Dillon, the Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center, where he volunteered for two years, or at Arapahoe Basin Ski Area, where he taught skiing part time for six years.
“I averaged probably 2,200 to 2,800 miles per year in my truck,” Giles said. “The rest of the time I rode my bike. Twenty (degrees) below zero is probably my limit. The coldest I ever rode was minus 18.”
In addition to being active, Giles knows how to fix things around the house, which has always been one of his most redeeming qualities, his wife, Linda, said. A couple years ago Giles even started designing and manufacturing his own skis with his son, Garret, a Summit High School senior.
But the Giles family’s life changed suddenly and dramatically on a pleasant August afternoon. Giles set out on his bike the morning of Aug. 23 en route to Vail Pass to watch the USA Pro Challenge time trials, but he wouldn’t make it back to Summit County that day.
At about 3 p.m. Frank Morrissey, of Castle Rock, who had also attended the time trials, happened upon Giles lying in a creek with a broken neck. Morrissey flagged down people on the trail to call 911, while another passerby helped administer CPR.
Understandably, Giles has no memory of exactly what happened.
“My tires had flat skid marks, so I must have braked hard for something,” Giles said. “If it wasn’t for Frank and everything he did, I wouldn’t be alive today.”
Giles was first rushed to Vail Medical Center and then to Denver Health where it was determined he broke the fifth cervical vertebra, causing paraplegia. Today, Giles is confined to a wheelchair, but he still has use of his arms and minimal use of his wrists, hands and fingers.
Staying true to their conservative, self-sufficient nature, the Giles family remained relatively private about the accident. Having built up their retirement over the span of their soon-to-be 29-year marriage, the Giles believed they had the financial resources to get by on their own.
However, Giles’ accident has resulted in the family dipping far into their savings to pay for things not covered by health insurance and others expenses few people ever think to plan for. Since the accident, the family has spent tens of thousands of dollars on a mechanized lift into the house, a handicap-accessible van, hand-powered and motorized wheelchairs and a bathroom remodel to accommodate those wheelchairs, to name a few.
In an effort to help the Giles family ease some of the financial burden, town of Dillon officials and local community members are hosting a fundraiser in their honor from noon to 3 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 22 at Pug Ryan’s Brewing Company, 104 Village Place in Dillon.
“Trevor was an outstanding contributor to the town of Dillon for about eight and a half years,” said public works director Scott O’Brien. “I don’t know how I would deal with something like this, but Trevor is showing an incredible amount of strength. There were a lot of us at the town and in the community who felt like we needed to do something to help them in their time of need.”
Tickets for the fundraiser will soon be available for $15 per person, O’Brien said. The cost buys two drinks and a trip through the buffet line.
Sarah Graham, of Graham Graphics, is coordinating a silent auction for the fundraiser, the proceeds of which will also benefit the Giles family.
“I just started accepting donations this week and I’m already amazed by the generosity,” Graham said. “I think it is amazing the way the community is coming together.”
To donate an item to the auction, call Graham at 389-8550.
In addition to the Pug Ryan’s fundraiser, Peggy Hiller, A-Basin’s assistant general manager, announced Thursday that this year’s annual Enduro will be hosted in the Giles family’s honor.
The Enduro, now in its 25th year and scheduled for April 16, is a 10-hour, two-person team endurance race on the Pallavicini chair. Entry is $150 per team, capped at 30 teams, Hiller said. A spaghetti dinner, which is open to the public ($15 for adults, $8 for kids), takes place after the Enduro and also will feature a silent auction.
All proceeds from the Enduro festivities will benefit the Giles family, Hiller said. For more information, visit www.arapahoebasin.com/events.
Although the family has been blown away by the outpouring of support, Giles said not to count him out yet. People with neck injuries generally regain some movement, and Giles plans to one day jump into the saddle of a hand cycle, when he’s not pursuing more philanthropic endeavors.
“I hope to get my hands on a loaner bike someday soon, so I can be more active again,” Giles said. “I’ll never recover to the point where I’ll be gainfully employed and I’ve always enjoyed reading to children. When I’m a little more self-sufficient I plan to spend as much time as I can in the community.”
An account at Bank of the West has been opened in the name of Trevor Giles for anyone who would like to contribute to the family’s cause but can’t attend the upcoming fundraisers.