Former Pro Snowboarder inspires young Alaskans at 2018 NYO games

Published: Apr. 28, 2018 at 5:44 PM AKDT
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Not everyone who gets knocked down gets back up, it's not easy. Former Pro Snowboarder Kevin Pearce knows that better than most — after nearly permanently paralyzing himself while snowboarding on a Salt Lake City area mountain in 2009. He shared his inspirational story with the young people at the Alaska Airlines Center who were competing in the 2018 Native Youth Olympics.

"I was training for the Vancouver Winter Olympics and I was right there at the place of making it to the Olympics. Then I got really, really badly hurt and suffered a really traumatic brain injury. Then it's been this whole. When you injure your brain it's like everything, your entire everything is injured," Pearce said.

He said he had learn how to walk, talk, and even swallow again.

Now he's mostly recovered from his serious brain injury but says he still has minor problems. For example, his vision doubles when he moves.

While Pearce has lost a lot of his major motor skills he never lost his drive to get back to a "normal" life.

"It's been just the same healing my brain, as it was becoming the best snowboarder in the world. There was just this drive and focus to be the best and that's what it's been for me as I try to heal and recover from this," said Pearce.

Pearce said the young people at the NYO are able to walk away from the games better prepared and driven to become better tomorrow than they are today.

"You're going to face issues in life, it happens to all of us. Everybody in this room is going to face an issue of some sort," he said.

"For me, it's not about the issues that you face or what happens to you its how you deal with them. How you come back from those. The path that you take and what you choose to heal and how you can get better because we as humans are amazing and we have these unbelievable bodies that can do so much. But you got to do the right things and heal them in the right ways and that's what I'm going to talk about and what I've done and how I've been able to be here in the shape I am today," said Pearce.

Pearce might never again be able to perform some of the amazing moves he was known for on a snowboard. But he says he's grateful to be able to ride and live life to the fullest every day.