Defying limitations: How a Utah athlete refuses to let a spinal cord injury slow him down

Kevin Hoyt loves to ride his adaptive mono ski, which he was able to purchase thanks to a grant from the Kelly Brush Foundation.

Kevin Hoyt loves to ride his adaptive mono ski, which he was able to purchase thanks to a grant from the Kelly Brush Foundation. (Kevin Hoyt)

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SALT LAKE CITY — The pain and recovery of a spinal cord injury have not kept Kevin Hoyt from achieving his athletic goals, and thanks to the Kelly Brush Foundation, the price tag of his equipment hasn't limited him either.

An avid runner and cyclist, Hoyt took an 18-foot fall in 2015 that burst the lower-central area of his spine and left him with an incomplete spinal cord injury — meaning the spinal cord is injured but still able to communicate with the brain on some level.

"After that, obviously, running was out of the question and biking sort of fell by the wayside — it wasn't very realistic. So I got into both cross-country skiing as well as alpine skiing on a mono ski," the Ogden man said.

The Kelly Brush Foundation is a nonprofit organization that seeks to supply people who have spinal cord injuries with the equipment they need to continue an active lifestyle. It provided Hoyt with a grant to pay for his mono ski, which, as an adaptive sport item, is normally around $10,000.

Being able to exercise means everything to Hoyt. "I'm happier, more energetic, and just feel good all around. It's so therapeutic to feel the sun on your face and breeze in your hair while doing something that requires a lot of effort, combined with a bit of craziness!" Hoyt said.

Hoyt said for those with a disability who don't know where to start in order to be active, there are groups that help. He recommends University of Utah Health's TRAILS program, Wasatch Adaptive Sports and the National Ability Center.

"(Groups) work with people with brain injuries, amputations, paralysis, autism as a disability, you name it. They cover the full spectrum and are able to adapt to whatever needs people have, including strokes. ... Blind skiers have been out there. Regardless of the disability, there is a way to be active; you just have to reach out and join the community," Hoyt said.

Hoyt is hoping to up his skiing skills this winter to a more advanced level, which he said he wouldn't be able to do without the grant. He is also looking forward to training with some Paralympians in Idaho later this year.

Catch him this winter at two of his favorite resorts: Alta and Powder Mountain. "But, I haven't found (a resort) I don't like," Hoyt said.

He is also looking forward to getting married before the end of the year, adding four "bonus kids" to the two he already has.

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Kaigan Mears Bigler is a general assignment news reporter for


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