By age 27, Kevin Pearce became a professional snowboarder, suffered a major brain injury, and started an organization called the Love Your Brain Foundation.

When Pearce told his story at Colorado College, he strived to leave his audience with one piece of advice: treat your brain well, because it’s the only one you will have.

Pearce started snowboarding when he was very young. “I got damn good at snowboarding,” he said. From the start, he would snowboard with Sean White.

“Sean was the guy I looked up to,” Pearce said. “He was always so much better than me. I always wanted to be as good as him… and then I started beating him.”

When reflecting on his years of training, Pearce noted, “I feel like I got there because of my focus and determination.” He had one ultimate goal: “I wanted to make it to the Olympics.”

Pearce spent his time learning how to perform new tricks. He had his friends videotape him so that he could study his own moves. “I was like, I gotta get this trick,” Pearce said. “I was so ready. I was right there.”

But despite the work that Pearce put in, on Dec. 31, 2009, he was critically injured while trying to land one of the more difficult moves, a cab double cork. He hit his head above his left eye when he fell on the half-pipe.

At first Pearce got up, trying to tell himself that he was okay. But looking back on it he realized, “I wasn’t all good.”

Even though Pearce was trying to be safe—he was wearing a helmet—he ended up hospitalized for three months. “It wasn’t that bad of a fall,” Pearce said. “But my brain couldn’t afford to be hit.”

Pearce did many hours of rehab in order to get back to a functioning level. “I needed to relearn how to do all this stuff,” Pearce said. “I was trying to relearn my life.”

Pearce emphasized one message during his talk: “Your brain lies to you,” he said. Pearce encouraged his audience to do what was right for their brains. “We know what’s good for our brains,” he said. “And more than that, we know what’s bad.”

This accident led Pearce to create the Love Your Brain Foundation. The mission of the organization is to start a movement that encourages others to improve their lives through protecting their brains.

At the moment, Pearce focuses on yoga and meditation. “That’s been huge for me,” he said. When Pearce is doing yoga, he doesn’t have to worry about doing anything dangerous. He knows that his brain is protected.

It is important that Pearce continues to take actions that protect his brain. “In no way have I made a complete recovery,” he said. “I’m still working on this.”

Looking back at his accident, Pearce recognized that he has moved on from the person that he was. “That is not me anymore—snowboarding is not what I can do anymore,” Pearce said. “Now it’s about the Love Your Brain Foundation.”

That is not to say that Pearce doesn’t snowboard anymore. It’s still one of his passions. “I don’t think about the past,” Pearce said. “How I could change that day is going to do nothing for me. I had no understanding or education or knowledge of how bad it could be.”

This year, Pearce’s mom asked him to try and find another activity that provokes the same feeling he gets when he’s snowboarding. “I haven’t found that yet,” he said.

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