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Fundraiser seeks support for Whistlerite paralyzed in snowboarding accident

Brennan Noeth, 28, suffered the life-altering injury while riding Blackcomb on May 12

Loved ones are seeking support for a Whistler snowboarder after he suffered a life-altering injury on the slopes this spring. 

Brennan Noeth was enjoying sunny, warm conditions while riding Blackcomb Mountain on May 12 when the day suddenly took a hard turn. A jump went wrong. It was obvious Noeth had injured his spine.

Responders airlifted the snowboarder to Vancouver General Hospital (VGH), where medical staff rushed him into emergency surgery to stabilize his spine with a set of rods and plates. Despite their efforts, doctors determined the accident had damaged several of Noeth's vertebrae and completely severed his spinal cord.

The injury paralyzed the 28-year-old from his mid-lower back down. Now, Noeth faces the difficult reality that he will never walk again.

Friends and family launched a GoFundMe campaign for Noeth and his partner, Terri, to ease financial strain on the couple as they navigate the significant challenges ahead. Originally from Saskatchewan, Noeth has lived in Whistler for six years, where he works as a maintenance supervisor at Crystal Lodge in Whistler Village.

According to the fundraiser, Noeth is now recovering in VGH's spinal unit, where he will soon begin physical therapy with a team of specialists. "Brennan will be staying in the hospital for an indeterminate amount of time after which he will transition into the G.F. Strong Rehab Centre to teach and rehabilitate him into his new life," GoFundMe organizers explained in the campaign's description. "This whole process could take anywhere from a few months to a couple of years."

Noeth's prognosis means a series of life-changing adjustments for both him and his loved ones, the description continues. "Not only because his entire way of life will change, but his very active lifestyle has also come to a sudden halt," it reads. "Brennan has always loved and pursued an outdoor lifestyle including snowboarding, hiking, camping, cliff jumping, travelling, and exploring. Moving forward, there will be immense effort put forward to help support him in continuing to do what he loves, but it will need to be done in different ways." 

The couple "had plans to travel around America and move to Australia at the end of the year, which has now come to a halt," friend Hannah Meade added in a Facebook post. "The financial aspect as you can imagine is going to be very hard on both of them, now having to unexpectedly move to Vancouver for Brennan to go through rehab and then both adjust to their new lives."

Adding to the financial pressure brought about by Noeth's injury is the fact that his partner is currently deep in the arduous process of gaining Canadian permanent residency. Accessing government supports, meanwhile, often involves lengthy waits. 

"Anyone who knows Brennan and Terri, knows how kind they are and that they would do anything for people in need, and now it’s time for them to get a bit of help back," Meade explained. 

In a direct message to Pique, Meade relayed Noeth's admiration for the first responders that cared for him following the crash. "He really appreciates their help and how they responded so fast," the friend wrote. 

The GoFundMe's description paints a picture of a man who is "beyond strong willed and always pushed himself to do better in whatever activity he was participating in." Though this injury represents "the biggest change and challenge" he's faced to date, Noeth's "positive and patient attitude" is already shining through, organizers wrote.

"During recovery, he has already been discussing to what level he will be able to participate in sports again. We are all brainstorming ways he can adapt to continue doing the things he loves. Living his life to the fullest is everyone's ultimate goal."

As of Monday afternoon, the fundraiser has tallied more than $25,700 of its $80,000 goal.

Money raised will support the couple during their extended stay in Vancouver while both are unable to work. It will also help pay for pricey equipment and supports Noeth will inevitably require moving forward, like wheelchairs, accessible rental accommodations or renovations, and an accessible vehicle, to name just a few. 

"We understand not everyone is in a position to donate, but would be grateful if you could please help by sharing this and spreading the word within your networks," the GoFundMe concluded.