Kayakers Helping Kayakers: A Benefit for Matt Thomas
On the river, Matt Thomas was always ready to help a friend. Now after a horrific accident, they’re looking after him.
Matt Thomas used to work as a civil engineer in Medford Oregon, but did not let the rigors of his career slow down epic feats as a weekend warrior. Last Labor Day weekend he grabbed a first descent on the South fork of the San Joaquin with Ben Stookesberry and drove through the night in both directions to make it back to work on time. Another weekend last summer he ran two stout 50-plus-footers in as many days.
These types of expeditions test the strongest paddlers’ mettle and form the strongest type of bonds among team members. As you read this, Matt’s greatest challenge is working to regain use of his arms in a rehab center far away from most of the expeditions he participated in, but his buddies are still there for him.
About two miles into a mountain bike ride, on Chuck’s Chips trail outside of Talent, Oregon on the morning of July 10th, 2009, Matt saw a newly changed jump, judged that it would go, and charged it. He overshot the landing, went over his handlebars, and dislocated his C6 and C7 vertebrae. After a helicopter ride that he barely remembers, he woke up in a hospital to find he was paralyzed from the chest down.
Matt made a name for himself as a cheerful soldier on expedition kayaking trips. When he was in extreme discomfort, he wouldn’t let on, and he always remained positive in the face of adversity. He is bringing this toughness towards an impressive physical recovery but there is an obstacle to his rehabilitation that he cannot control: He had no insurance when the accident happened.
Outdoor industry professionals and lifestylers alike have rallied around Matt in the face of this incredible obstacle. With less than two weeks notice Thomas’ old friends and fellow whitewater paddlers Kyle and Ryan Allred threw an event that raised over five thousand dollars. Shasta Boyz Productions are dedicating their August 21st release of “Wet Dreamz” to Thomas and all proceeds go his way as well.
“Kayaking is a sport where most of the time you are self reliant, but when something goes wrong you know your friends will do anything possible to help,” says expedition kayak photographer and organizer of the Matt Thomas Rehab Raffle, Darin McQuoid. “Matt’s in a difficult situation, albeit off the river, but anytime a partner needs help its not a question of if you will help, but how you will.”
Please join in this effort to support this great outdoorsman and amazing friend by buying tickets to the Matt Thomas Rehab Raffle—http://mattthomasraffle.blogspot.com/— and possibly win some of the finest paddling gear available. You can also track Matt’s recovery and donate directly at http://www.mattnevergivesup.blogspot.com/.