Pearce hits Colorado with yoga fundraising, brain injury awareness
Special to the Daily
VAIL — It’s been just over five years since former professional snowboarder, Kevin Pearce crashed during a half-pipe training session in Park City, Utah. Just two months before the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, it was his head that took the full force of the near-fatal fall, tearing him away from a gold medal dream and dropping him into the depths of a nightmare.
Kevin’s story is captured in “The Crash Reel,” a 2013 documentary that tells his story as a top-tier athlete, his sudden accident and his ongoing recovery with a brain injury. The trauma brought on a six-day coma, memory loss, mood swings and vision problems, but there’s a specific aspect to Kevin’s recovery that has helped give him new eyes.
“I was so good, for so long, at snowboarding, and then all of a sudden, in a blink on an eye, I was so bad and such a failure — everything I did was wrong,” said Kevin during an interview in Vail on Wednesday. “But then when I go and do yoga, maybe I am not the best — I mean I know I am not the best yogi out there — but for me it’s something I can work toward, because I am improving and I know it’s something I can get better at.”
Just two months ago, Pearce said he attended a life-changing yoga class near his California home. He drove to the class with his eyeglasses on (he has had to wear them all day, every day since his injury); when he drove home, he didn’t have to wear them.
“This was like the craziest thing for me,” he said. “I went and took this class and sweated my butt off, and was going pretty full on. After I showered, I drove home without my glasses, and I haven’t put them back on since that day, since after that yoga class.
“In no way are my eyes 100 percent better,” he added, “but it made that big of a difference that I don’t have to wear glasses anymore.”
Kevin will share his story and “The Crash Reel” at an event in Vail this Sunday. The gathering will be held at the Vail Cascade Resort theater, and will begin at 4 p.m. with a yoga class, which Pearce will attend, and then follow with the screening of the documentary and a question and answer session with him.
“This event is all about spreading awareness,” said Shenna Richardson, store manager of Lululemon Athletica Vail, sponsor and organizer of the Sunday matinee event. “Kevin’s story is incredible, and one with a happy ending. Sharing his message and hosting an experience for our community to hear it is what we’re aiming to do.”
Kevin’s timing in Vail coincides well with the world of snowboarding, as the Burton U.S. Open Snowboarding Championships is in town through today.
LoveYourBrain on yoga
In 2014, Kevin and brother Adam Pearce founded the LoveYourBrain Foundation, a nonprofit organization that aims to improve the quality of life for people affected by brain injury. The mission is to focus on a positive approach to brain injury prevention, recovery and brain health.
Fittingly, March is Brain Injury Awareness Month, and LoveYourBrain is leading a month-long national fundraising campaign through yoga and meditation. The effort is partnering with at least one studio in every state throughout the U.S. (three of which are in Colorado), to offer a donation-based class.
All of the money raised will help grow LoveYourBrain’s flagship yoga program, which supports traumatic brain injury survivors to participate in affordable yoga and meditation classes tailored to their needs.
“One thing we knew we wanted to do was help people with brain injuries for their whole life,” said Adam. “Yoga is something that Kevin loves, and we knew we could make it very accessible and affordable for others.”
Kevin said he tries to meditate at least once every day, and that at home he practices yoga every day, too.
While traveling, Kevin gets on his mat at least two or three times a week.
“It is so important for everybody in this world to just slow down and take things a bit more slowly … to really get a better understanding of what is going on around you, so your mind is not racing around as much — especially for someone with a brain injury,” Kevin said.
The whirlwind of the mind is something that Kevin can speak to first hand, he said, with so much going in his head and so many different things happening amidst his ongoing recovery.
“Finding yoga and finding that ability to be exercising and be moving, but at the same time be meditating and be calm and be so relaxed and so mellow, has been so helpful and healing for me in the most amazing way,” he said, “and it has change my life in a way that I could have never imagined, so I want to share what I have found with the rest of the world.”
For more information on the LoveYourBrain Foundation and the March yoga fundraising campaign, visit http://www.loveyourbrain.org/march/.
Kim Fuller is a freelance journalist based in Vail.
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