New Year’s Eve 2009 didn't end in celebration for Kevin Pearce
, who was training for the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics when a cab double cork on the half-pipe ended his career as a professional snowboarder and initiated his journey of recovery from a traumatic brain injury.
He’s now raising awareness and funds to improve the life quality of individuals impacted by traumatic brain injury through the LoveYourBrain Foundation
When Pearce was severely injured, he says he’d been concussed a week and a half prior but was ultimately able to continue snowboarding with symptoms unnoticeable to those watching.
“My brain was not healed, and I was not in any kind of form to get that kind of hit to my head,” Pearce says.
But when he did, his life changed forever. He spent nearly the entire month of January 2010 on a critical care unit, and his future quality of life was unknown.
“They tell me I would have died without a helmet on,” Pearce says — one reason why he now travels the country as a motivational speaker encouraging others to take care of and love their brains.
There’s more to be done than practice physical safety habits, though.
“Loving your brain can be very healing. What is so bad, so damaging for us, is to have the ANTs, so what I ask all of you to do is kill the ANTs — automatic, negative thoughts — that come into our head, and that’s what is so damaging to us,” says Pearce, who experienced “ANTs” as he went from a top-notch snowboarder to realizing that his career was over and that his brain simply didn’t function the way that it did prior to his injury.
“I spent a lot of time rehabbing and a lot of time recovering,” Pearce says. “I’m getting back to this life I lived before that — and in no way is it the same — but there are some very cool important things. Maybe I do have some differences. Maybe I don’t remember where I parked my car. I struggle with a lot of things on a daily basis, but I don’t allow them into my brain.
“I look at everything going so great and everything I have, and I try to build on that instead of feeling bad about myself. Look at all these amazing people. We’re so lucky we’re able to be here.”
• Support organizations like Living Arrangements for the Developmentally Disabled (LADD)
, a nonprofit that "facilitates the education of adults with disabilities to realize their aspirations." LADD, which presented the 2015 Cincinnati ReelAbilities Film Festival
, hosted Pearce after the screening of Crash Reel,
a documentary film
detailing his crash and recovery that generated more than $1,200 for the nonprofit.
• Get involved
with the LoveYourBrain Foundation by starting a fundraising campaign.
• Protect your brain by wearing a helmet. Rest your brain. Kill the ANTs.