SAB and Burton collab on Cinco de Mayo in Denver.
On Thursday, May 5th, the Burton Denver flagship store opened its doors to celebrate the two-year anniversary of Save A Brain, the SLC-based non-profit started by TBI survivor Kelsey Boyer. It was just over five years ago that Kelsey’s own experience with traumatic brain injury led her on a journey of rehabilitation and discovery in which she learned about the plethora of repercussions caused by brain injury and a striking lack of resources for individuals (and their friends and families) seeking to heal their heads after concussion and TBI. While existing non-profits like LoveYourBrain and the High Fives Foundation were already doing great work, one of the biggest hurdles for Kelsey was finding the information she needed to navigate healing: where to go, what options she had, how to advocate for herself, and even more, what to do to keep her brain healthy long-term. There was a space for even more awareness and education.
So, the Pennsylvania-native-turned-Salt-Lake-local put launched Save A Brain, learning more and more about brain health while figuring out how to start a non-profit at the same time. This is no small feat by any stretch, but throw in a global pandemic right as SAB was unfurling and the options to get the word out through events, in-person interaction, and non-virtual fundraisers was squelched. But Kelsey, who is not short on passion and perseverance, never stopped moving forward. She enlisted the help of close friends Melissa Riitano, Micah Anderson—who had both been instrumental caretakers for Kelsey—and Morgan Scibetta as the SAB team to bring her ideas to fruition.
Since the launch in 2020, Save A Brain has steadily increased its momentum, building a foundation of education and awareness about the brain at a time serendipitous in action sports—when discussions about concussion symptoms, CTE, and mental health are coming to the forefront more than ever before. Kelsey and her team—staff, board of directors, and ambassadors—are pushing the conversation forward and getting attentive traction.
A lead-off partnership with Roxy; collaboration with Skullcandy; support from Smith, anon, Giro, Triple Eight, and more for the SAB Happy Helmets program; a fundraiser with The Bomb Hole; editorial on Stab Mag; projects with Snowbird Resort; official helmet checks at Dew Tour; not to mention continually building support from in snowboarding, skateboarding, and other boardsports, as well as doctors, holistic practitioners, and more. Save A Brain has been talking about a challenging topic in an industry that often doesn’t want to hear about it, and people have been listening.
So on May 5, 2021, as Kelsey, Micah, and Melissa prepared to celebrate the second anniversary of Save A Brain with the first in-person event the non-profit had ever held, an art and photo show called Right Brain, the excitement and appreciation was at an all-time high. Burton Snowboards had opened the doors, literally, to their Denver flagship store in the RiNo Art District for a Cinco de Mayo gathering to raise money for SAB. In the first floor of the store, as well as on the indoor/outdoor rooftop zone of the building, art and images by some of snowboading’s best were displayed. Mikkel Bang outrunning a plane shot by Gabe L’Heureux. Freddi Kalbermatten in AK by Blotto. Images by Stephan Jende, Chip Proulx, Jesse Dawson, Gill Montgomery, Melissa Riitano, and more. Art by Hannah Eddy, Morgan Scibetta, @marielmadethis, Alex Uvalle, and more. All open for auction with proceeds going directly to Save A Brain.
Fat Tire was providing beverages. A taco bar was set up. Daylight lingered as folks laughed and caught up, the sounds of DJ Simone filled the air. Kelsey was everywhere. Making sure everyone was having a good time. Checking in on the crew selling SAB merch and handing out pamphlets. Two years in the making, her first event was filled with stoked and smiling people. Around 8pm, the Save A Brain crew went in front of the crowd, slightly nervous to interrupt the boisterous atmosphere. But everyone was rapt. An audience filed into the middle zone on the roof and DJ Simone directed the audio to a handheld mic so Kelsey could tell her story. The rest of the building was empty as everyone listened intently to Kelsey, Melissa, and Micah share what Save A Brain is all about, what they are doing, and why they are doing it. Hands were raised and questions were brought up. Support was shared. The community responded in real time to what Kelsey and crew had created. The conversation was just starting.
“I simply cannot put into words what this event meant to us,” said Kelsey. “I cried multiple times because I can’t believe we made it this far. Save A Brain started as a pure passion project to make an imprint in this world and everyone that showed up truly showed us that we are doing just that.”
And really, it’s only been two years. That’s not that long, even, and Save A Brain is fostering a dialogue about brain health, and the understanding of TBIs and concussions, as well as resources for those experiencing concussion symptoms and/or TBI as well as their caretakers, friends, and family, that is already making a steady impact. Right Brain was the first of many events for the foundation and the pushing forward of more understanding, more conversation, and more compassion when it comes to our brains.
Big thanks to Burton, anon, Red Bull, and Fat Tire for supporting Right Brain, as well as to all of the photographers and artists who donated work to the show and auction.