Big Heart Big Hands partners with Amazing Brains to provide support for backcountry stress injuries | VailDaily.com
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Big Heart Big Hands partners with Amazing Brains to provide support for backcountry stress injuries

Partnership is an extension of Vail-based nonprofit’s work to connect volunteers, families and victims of wilderness rescue incidents to more mental health services

Local nonprofit Big Heart Big Hands to connect volunteers, families and victims of wilderness rescue incidents to more mental health services at dramatically reduced rates and in many cases, free-of-charge.
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Each year, Colorado Search and Rescue responds to about 3,600 calls for wilderness rescue assistance or support — more than any other state. Given that 2,800 people give about 500,000 hours of their time each year and spend about $1,500 out of pocket to respond to backcountry incidents, these volunteers are pushed to their limits physically, financially and mentally.

Vail-based nonprofit Big Heart Big Hands is working to connect volunteers, families and victims of wilderness rescue incidents to more mental health services at dramatically reduced rates and in many cases, free-of-charge. By partnering with local clinicians and organizations, BHBH is working to connect volunteers and their families to trained professionals who can address the unique needs of these individuals.

Big Heart Big Hands and Amazing Brains

BHBH has partnered with Amazing Brains to connect individuals and families to registered therapists, coaches and counselors for “brain training” through its Stabilization Program. The goal is to provide services to those referred by Big Heart Big Hands with at least a 50% reduced rate for those who qualify.



Additionally, BHBH has partnered with Amazing Brains to provide one scholarship per year for their Stabilization Program at a value of $2,500.

“Amazing Brains believes in the power of neuroplasticity and creating healthy change,” said CEO and Founder Micah Shanser in a news release. “We believe the lives and experiences of people struggling with cognition, social acuity, focus, mood and performance can vastly improve. Whether a person is struggling or fighting to create a better brain as an individual, athlete, musician, artist, executive or wants to overcome personal trauma, brain training is the answer.”



Amazing Brains specializes in helping symptoms that include: increasing focus, mood, sleep, memory, performance, energy/motivation and decreasing anxiety, brain fog, headaches, stress, depression, anger, rigidity, addictive tendencies/cravings.

“We are grateful for our partnership with Big Heart Big Hands,” adds Shanser, “and look forward to extending outreach efforts into the Vail Valley with their referrals.”

BHBH is actively working to secure two to three more traditional clinicians as partners for mental health services.

The need is here and now

Currently, Colorado lawmakers are looking to launch a pilot program to provide mental health services to search and rescue volunteers.

“The mental and emotional strain we put people under is huge,” said Jeff Sparhawk, the executive director for Colorado Search and Rescue. “Our families don’t know if we’ll be home tonight or out on a rescue. We’re dealing with a severely injured person or a deceased person, or a family that’s having the worst day of their lives.”

In the past, BHBH has worked with local outdoor retailers and local mental health partners to provide events such as:

  • Co-hosting with Desert Mountain Medicine: Winter Mountain Safety 101 and Mountain Safety 101
  • Hosting Backpacking Basics with Vail Mountain Rescue and Vail Mountain Guides
  • Promoting and assisting in organizing the Vail Mountain Rescue Group’s Snow Safety Awareness Night ahead of the winter season
  • Partnering with True Nature Health Talks to promote events like 5Point Talks: Trauma, Loss, and Resilience in the Backcountry

As tourism in Eagle County, and Colorado, continues to increase in visits to the backcountry, so will the need for creating awareness for outdoor and mountain safety and providing mental health services and financial resources for those who are exposed to traumatic events as a result of search and rescue efforts.

Big Heart Big Hands raises money for mountain rescue organizations, supports the awareness and implementation of public education for outdoor and mountain safety and assists with mental health counseling for those who have been impacted by a wilderness rescue.

Since 2015, BHBH has raised approximately $34,000, with $4,000 going to educational programs, $10,000 toward annual events, $19,000 to Search and Rescue support and $4,000 to operations.

Learn more at BigHeartBigHands.org. BHBH is actively seeking donations for operations, programming and community outreach efforts. The organization has a goal to raise at least $10,000 by August of 2022. Visit gofundme.com/f/bz6an-big-heart-big-hands-operations-and-programs to support the campaign.

About Big Heart Big Hands

Big Heart Big Hands was founded in the memory of Jarod Wetherell, who passed away while hiking the Maroon Bells peaks outside of Aspen in October 2014. Big Heart Big Hands is a nonprofit that raises money for mountain rescue organizations, supports the awareness and implementation of public education for outdoor and mountain safety, and assists with mental health counseling for those who have been impacted by a wilderness rescue.


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