Vail Valley Charitable Fund holds fundraiser to support local resident with quadriplegia | VailDaily.com
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Vail Valley Charitable Fund holds fundraiser to support local resident with quadriplegia

Funds will help the family construct a wheelchair accessible home and purchase adaptive equipment

Brian Biggs, left, with his younger brother, Eric, before the injury.
Brian Biggs/Courtesy photo

The Vail Valley Charitable Foundation is hosting a fundraiser on Saturday, Jan. 14, to raise money for Brian Biggs, a 23-year-old Eagle County native who severely injured his spinal cord during a rafting trip in June 2022, leaving him with quadriplegia.

Biggs grew up in the valley and graduated from Battle Mountain High School in 2017. Nicknamed “BryFly” by his friends and family, he is a lifelong mountain man with a passion for the many outdoor activities of the valley, including rafting, fly fishing, hunting and skiing.

“I started skiing as soon as I could walk, basically skiing in diapers,” Biggs said. “Our house always backed up to some sort of forest or open space, so I just grew up running around the woods and doing various things like building forts, squirrel hunting.”



Biggs was also in diapers when he started going on rafting trips with his family, a hobby that he continued to pursue on his own and with friends as an adult.

“We’ve always been really into rafting, whether it’s white water or just mellow floats,” Biggs said. “Every year we would do at least one week-long expedition on some river, whether it’s in Utah or Colorado. That was kind of our family thing.”

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This past June, Biggs planned a rafting trip with a dozen friends down Cataract Canyon, north of Lake Powell. They had just completed a 15-mile section of rapids and pulled into a small campsite to rest for the day, when Biggs said he dove off of a sandbar into water that was only 3 feet deep.

“I open my eyes underwater, and I’m floating to the top, and when I get to the top I go to roll over or stand up, and I just can’t do it,” Biggs said. “Nothing’s working, and I’m just kind of floating there.”

Biggs had suffered a C5 spinal cord injury, which resulted in paralysis in all four of his limbs, including limited use of his arms and hands. His younger brother Eric pulled him out of the water and the group was quickly able to call help via satellite phone.



A helicopter evacuated him from the site within an hour of the injury and Biggs was treated at St. Mary’s Hospital in Glenwood Springs. He then spent four months in rehabilitation at Craig Hospital in Englewood, Colorado, one of the world’s leading research hospitals in spinal cord injuries.

The Biggs family is working to buy the adaptive equipment necessary to maximize Brian’s autonomy and comfort.
Brian Biggs/Courtesy photo

Biggs is now back home with his parents in EagleVail, completing his senior year at Montana State University online, and the family is seeking funding to help support the equipment and modifications needed to help him regain his independence and be comfortable in his environment. These include adding an ADA-accessible bedroom and bathroom on the first floor — Biggs is currently residing in their living room — purchasing a van with wheelchair accessibility and financing caretakers, among other needs.

The family is also hoping to purchase an Action Trackchair all-terrain wheelchair that would enable Biggs to take his chair out on mountain trails and through snow, allowing him to once again move independently in the outdoors.

“It’s just trying to find the money to get him back to some sort of normal life,” said Brent Biggs, Brian’s father. “The fundraiser is to get all of this adaptive equipment, and also to provide him his own private room instead of living in our dining room. Hopefully, as time goes on, he’ll get stronger and move back to Montana, which is his goal.”

Biggs is approaching his new reality with tenacity and has already been medically cleared for adaptive skiing and diving opportunities, one of the many ways that he plans to get back into his favorite activities this year. 

“The most encouraging thing so far is the progress that I’ve made and how much more movement I already have in my arms, the strength I’ve gotten,” Biggs said. “It’s also just encouraging to see how many people have come to help out, all of my friends that help out, and how excited all these people are for me to get back to doing the things I love to do.”

Biggs is finding ways to return to his favorite activities, such as skiing, diving and fly-fishing.
Brian Biggs/Courtesy photo

The “Go Biggs for BryFly” fundraiser will take place at the EagleVail pavilion on Saturday, Jan. 14 from 5-8:30 p.m. and will include a silent auction, live music from the band Smörgåsgrass, appetizers and two drinks per person. The suggested donation is $35 per person. 

Individual donations can also be made directly online at coloradogives.org/donate/vvcf, or by writing “Brian Biggs” on the memo line of a check payable to the Vail Valley Charitable Fund, P.O. Box 2307, Edwards CO, 81632.

The Vail Valley Charitable Foundation is also seeking donations for the silent auction. Anyone interested in contributing to the auction can contact executive director Brooke Skjonsby at brooke@vvcf.org

“The Vail Valley community has just been amazing,” Brent Biggs said. “Our friend network and people who don’t even know us are offering help. With the construction process of the addition, everyone is just chipping in and trying to help do it at a lower cost, they’re showing up and getting over here to see that this moves along quickly. The outpouring from the community has just been overwhelming.”

For more information about the fundraiser, visit the “Go Biggs for BryFly” event on Facebook.


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