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Former professional snowboarder Kevin Pearce is no stranger to adversity. With multiple medals and championship titles to his name, including three medals at the 2008 Winter X Games XII in Aspen, Colorado, he is an accomplished snowboarder with many victories under his belt. This interview will tell the story of Kevin's 2009 injury and his subsequent recovery, which brought about the creation of the Love Your Brain foundation and Kevin's newfound passion for empowering people to live a brain healthy lifestyle.
Kevin now gives speeches across the United States, sharing his experience and life story with positivity and a message of resilience. He is considered an inspirational survivor and was even featured in a documentary, The Crash Reel, by award-winning film director Lucy Walker. Enjoy getting to know Kevin personally and consider connecting with Kevin on Callmart for a one-to-one chat with this inspiring individual.
A Talk with Champion Snowboarder Kevin Pearce :
1. Get to Know Kevin Pearce
Image source: The New York Times
Let’s start off with this - what is your motto in life?
I guess my motto would be, “Never give up.”
Can you tell us a little bit about why that’s your motto?
Image source: Seven Days
In 2009, I was training for the Vancouver Winter Olympics; it was like, what I really, really, wanted. I was in a place in my life where I was sure, and everyone else was pretty sure, that I was gonna make it to the Olympics. For example, my parents had already bought plane tickets for the whole family to the Olympics, and they had hotel rooms booked in Vancouver. Basically, I was the guy who was gonna go to the Olympics.
I had beaten [rival and another top American snowboarder] Shaun White a couple times the year before, so it was basically as much of a done deal as it could be. I was training in Park City, Utah, trying a new trick on my snowboard called a “cap double cork” on a 22-foot half-pipe. It went really, really wrong. I ended up landing sideways on the half-pipe when I should’ve been riding down it straight and landed right on my head. I ended up getting a very traumatic brain injury.
Throughout that process of healing my brain, I definitely hadn’t gotten a lot of encouragement. I hadn’t had a lot of people giving me a lot of hope or reassurance that my brain was going to heal. As humans, we don’t know a whole lot about the human brain. We know so little about these 13 lb organs in our skulls, and it’s crazy that we don’t know. Because they’re so complicated, a lot of the time I was given the wrong information or information I didn’t want to hear.
A doctor told me that I’d never have single vision again. Why would she tell me that, when she didn’t know? She was very highly qualified, yet she gave me absolutely no hope that my eyes would ever be better again. In the documentary made about me, The Crash Reel, they put that comment in there. I really wasn’t given a lot of hope.
Now, I find myself in a place where I have the absolutely most beautiful fiancée in the entire world, I’m living this awesome life where I’ve now gone all plant-based and it’s totally changed my body and my brain, and I feel like a totally different person.
Is it your fiancée, then, that most encouraged you to “never give up”?
I would say it starts with my family and my mom. I lived at home for two years after my injury, and now that I’ve healed and am much more back to myself I’d say it’s my fiancée that’s given me encouragement and helped me get to where I am today. I don’t know how much she sees it, but I definitely feel it in ways I can’t really explain. But this is a hard message to give since not everyone has a fiancée. I guess a better way to say who encouraged me the most was my family, people that were and are the very closest to me. They were the ones who gave me the knowledge, encouragement, and the understanding that I couldn’t give up.
At the same time, I think it was also myself that encouraged me to never give up. I was raised to never give up. I never went at things in a half-done way, and that’s how I got to where I was with snowboarding. It’s definitely very much how I’ve healed my brain, and now how I’m taking this next stage in my life where I’m 31, I can’t snowboard professionally anymore, and instead of saying, “Oh, poor me, poor Kevin who can’t go to X Games anymore or do this or that,'' I know I have so many opportunities and possibilities. There’s so much available to me now.
That’s a great positive outlook. You’ve really managed to spin something negative into something better.
Image source: LoveYourBrain
Because, well, it did suck. I did not sign up to get a traumatic brain injury - I did not want to be in a medically-induced coma in intensive care for 36 days straight. We all deal with stuff in our lives; you’re not alive if you don’t have to deal with some hard stuff. For me it’s not about what you deal with, but how you deal with it, and not feeling sorry for yourself.
In this life we live now, with Instagram, Facebook, and all this social media, it’s like everyone’s lives are so good. You don’t see the bad stuff on Instagram. No one puts up pictures of how bad their day is. You don’t scroll down Instagram and think, “Oh that’s terrible.” You end up thinking, “Everyone’s so much better than me. Everyone’s life is so good.” But that’s NOT true.
Not everyone’s life is that awesome, and you’ve got to deal with it when things go south and when things go bad. I think I’m dealing with things in the best way that I can, and I’m actually so grateful for what happened to me. I’m grateful I’ve had the experiences I’ve had because I would not be where I am today, nor with the woman I’m with. I could not be any happier. Honestly, I feel like I’m living in a total dream right now - my life feels almost fake. The things that happen to us lead us to where we end up.
We’re not who we are without the things that have happened to us, right?
Image source: YouTube
Totally. We’re totally built from our experiences. I think experiences are the most important part of our lives. At the same time, I see myself as the luckiest person in the world. Since the age of 16 I was getting to travel all around the world, snowboarding, doing what I love the most, and then I started getting PAID a significant amount of money.
But then I got really, really, badly hurt, and now I’m able to live off of all these experiences that I’ve had. I don’t know, I just feel so grateful and lucky to be where I am.
Thank you for taking the time to talk to us today, Kevin.
Connect with Kevin
Chat with Kevin on
Love Your Brain Foundation
Check out Kevin's personal website, kevinpearce.com