Growing up among the tall trees and taller mountains of Northern BC, Jeff Scott has always been that sparkly-eyed, big-smiled guy with only positive words to share.
Jeff morphed his love for the outdoors into a career, becoming a wild land firefighter and studying Applied Disaster and Emergency Management. After moving to Revelstoke in 2010, he took full advantage of mountain life; boarding and studying avalanche safety, even doing research to present the Canadian Avalanche Association, in the hope of making the backcountry a safer venture.
On the last day of the season, in April 2010, Jeff was boarding with friends when he had an accident that would change his life in the most fundamental of ways. Breaking his C5/6 vertebrae, Jeff became a quadriplegic and began a long journey back to health and a new way of living his adventure-filled life. And, along the way, he started a foundation to bring some new friends along for the ride.
What got you through that year of recovery?
The initial hurdle was accepting what had happened – just understanding that I couldn’t go back and change it. My incredible community of family and friend support and having an attitude of gratefulness is what has allowed me to continue to maintain a positive attitude through it all.
How has the outdoors helped you deal with your injury and adapt to a new way of living?
Even before I got hurt, being in those places, going on random adventures – being in the mountains, being out camping, being on the beach – wherever it is – helps me to kinda connect to myself and to appreciate what we have here in this life.
About a year after your injury you (and friends) started the Live It! Love It! Foundation. What inspired you to do it?
During my recovery I knew I needed to find a way to get back in to the mountains and be active. And I know I’m not alone in that, but not everyone has the same support that I did – the people, the finances. Hopefully we can help people reclaim a portion of their identity that they may have lost from their injury.
Why do you think outdoor adventure is important for us, and specifically those with spinal cord injuries?
Whatever adventure you might be on it usually presents some challenges that allow you to problem solve, push your limits, and see what you’re capable of.
What’s the Live it! Love it! Camp all about?
Camps are fully funded for participants and all they have to do is get there. Camps feature anything from bungee jumping, kayaking, canoeing, hand-cycling, bowling etc., plus peer mentoring, journaling, good food and conversations, guided meditations and yoga to create the ultimate warrior!
You’re also a motivational speaker. What’s the main message you hope to communicate?
The first speech I did was like this ultimate confession and it really helped me move on. My big message is the importance of being grateful. It’s been great to get out and connect with people on that.
You were recently named “Local Hero” and took home a specially equipped van. How does that impact your life and your sense of freedom?
It’s been incredible. The freedom is tenfold what it was when I got my license when I was sixteen. Now I can just…go. It’s starting to feel like home, now that I have my hula girl in it!
Amazingly, you’ve gotten back to skiing (on a sit ski), play rugby, and are on a track and field team. What’s your next big adventure?
I always kinda dream of Hawaii, Mexico or Australia to get some time in warm water to surf.
Recently Jeff and supporters of Live it! Love it! also completed the Extreme Everest Challenge in Smithers, BC. Individuals and teams were challenged with skiing the vertical of Everest and some are crazy enough to climb it as well. The whole event was a fundraiser for Live it! Love it!.
We're pumped to hear more about Jeff’s future escapades – especially with his new wheels and a hula-girl sidekick!