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Andrew Skinner June 29, 2021 News, Noteworthy, SCI

Welcoming Back a Good Friend

It’s been a slow, but steady process returning to “normal” after a dismal year of Covid-19 lock downs, but the Black Bear Diner staff is getting used to having our enthusiastic group of Rotarians in their back room, and old and familiar Rotary routines are coming back to our meetings -- none more familiar and poignant than having Andrew Skinner of the Triumph Foundation back in our midst. Ever since past president Doug Sutton introduced us to Andrew in 2010, Andrew has been bringing his message of personal tragedy followed by renovating hope to our club, and we have been rewarded by watching and hearing how his foundation has grown to include more services and more hope for those whose lives have been devastated by paralyzing accidents or diseases.

The Triumph Foundation grew out of a devastating accident which marred an otherwise perfect Thanksgiving weekend. Andrew, his family, and his new girlfriend, Kirsten, were celebrating a weekend of thankfulness with good food and exhilarating winter fun in a mountain cabin when an ill-timed snowboard jump left the recent college graduate a quadriplegic.

There were months of hospitalization and painful therapy which could have left the young athlete bitter and desolate, but Andrew credits the unwavering support from his family and Kirsten with bringing him back from despair and instilling him with hope for a future life of purpose and giving. He defied the doctors’ prognosis of total paralysis by gaining upper body mobility and, blessed with an energetic and positive outlook, Andrew began formulating a new life calling outside his own personal drama, one of outreach and hope for others who were faced with crippling circumstances.

Soon after, the Triumph Foundation was launched with the helpful tasks of bringing “care packages,” baskets filled with personal hygiene products and professional resource brochures, to paralyzed hospital patients. The packages were accompanied by upbeat interactions and messages of hope. With the dedicated support of Kirsten, who became Andrew’s wife shortly after the accident, the foundation has grown to include donations of wheelchairs to clients, availability of therapy equipment, financial support, and athletic activities tailored to those in wheelchairs. Inspired by Andrew’s story, SCV Rotary began a history of pledging support to the engaging young man and not only offering monetary support of the foundation through Newhall Rotary Community Foundation grants, but also “hands on” support. An early Rotary project included helping to build a ramp in the home of a young wheelchair-bound teen. The club continued its monetary support last week by presenting Andrew with a Newhall Rotary Community Foundation check, along with our new Rotary T-shirt.

Even though Covid-19 lock downs have provided some roadblocks to the Triumph Foundation activities (including its fund-raising events), Andrew was pleased to announce that the recent acquisition of a warehouse has meant his home could be cleared of donated wheelchairs, stacks of dedicated therapy devices, and reams of paperwork and moved to a new home. Private donations, grants, and volunteer support from groups like Rotary have helped to ease the losses imposed by the Covid year, the most devastating being the loss of corporate sponsors with the forced cancellation of its athletic and recreational events.

Ever positive and upbeat, Andrew announced the reinstatement of a few activities in 2021, after reminding us that he was scheduled to be our speaker back in March 2020 when the first Covid lock down was imposed. Looking on the bright side, Andrew said that the lock down did give the Foundation time to transfer equipment and bookkeeping supplies to the new warehouse and start planning the first event of this new year -- a July 10 Sports Festival which will be held at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. Those interested in volunteering or learning more can visit the website: to be updated on the progress. The website also includes a wealth of information on services and resources as well as messages of hope. Andrew strives to pass the hope that sustains his optimistic life goals on to others saying, “Triumph is my calling, and has given me purpose.”

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