Monster Energy Cares: Meet Roy Tuscany, Founder of the High Fives Foundation

Mar 27, 2024 9:05 AM ET

Monster Energy Cares Foundation

Monster Energy Cares: We'd like to introduce the Monster Energy Family to Roy Tuscany, the founder of the High Fives Foundation. Roy, why don't you tell us about yourself a little?

Roy Tuscany: Hi everybody. My name is Roy Tuscany. I'm originally from Vermont. I am a husband, father, philanthropist and adaptive athlete. In 2009 I got to start the High Fives Foundation, a nonprofit organization that's located in Truckee, California, that serves all of North America. It was a way for myself to pay it forward, after I sustained a life-changing injury in a ski accident: I went 130 feet on a ski jump and came down from 30 feet in the air. The resultant impact into the snow burst fractured my T12 vertebrae.

I was supported by all these amazing communities. And it hit me that other people would fall into the same shoes that I did. So in 2009, I started High Fives with this simple goal to help an individual that sustains a life changing injury return to the sports they love. And now, nearly 15 years later, we've served over 700 athletes — 25% of those being veterans — getting them through life changing injuries, and getting reconnected back to community through sport.

MEC: That's an amazing story, and it's an amazing organization. Thank you so much for founding it. It's just been incredible working with you. Big question for you: between Bike, Fish, Dirt, Snow and Surf, if you had to pick a favorite of the High Fives in terms of reintroducing a wounded athlete or veteran to a sport, which one would it be?

RT: You know, it's tough. All five of those are like my five favorite things to do — hence why we focus on them — but I would definitely say dirt or surf. I'm just coming off a dirt trip and the experiences, the smiles, the amount of dirtiness that we got down with this group, was through the roof. And it's accessible to all. Same thing with surfing. I think surfing has found so many different ways to adapt, the different ways to surf after a disability, that it gives the opportunity to be incredibly inclusive for all. So I think surf and dirt. One you get really dirty, one you get really wet. So they're a good match for each other!

MEC: How personally rewarding to you is running this organization?

RT: I think what's been most rewarding is the fact that the last couple of years, there's been a lot of attention that's gone over to DEI: Disability, Equity, and Inclusion. But for the longest time, I've been waving the largest flag for the disabled community. Obviously in the last couple of years, there's been a lot of attention to it. But before that, that's been the most rewarding, serving what I think is the most underserved population in the country.

And the wildest thing? We're all going to become disabled at some point. Every single day we're getting a little bit closer, we break down a little bit more. So why not support those that might be where we all end up?

MEC: We've been really excited about this partnership — how do you think this partnership is going for you with Monster Energy?

RT: This smile I think tells a lot about it! I think it's really amazing. Monster is such a recognizable brand, a recognizable brand within a vertical of sport that I feel we're on the back end of. Monster gets to celebrate and promote and highlight all these incredible athletes that do these amazing feats. And unfortunately, once in a while, an individual is going to sustain a life-changing injury. And so to be partnered with a brand that not only helps promote it, but then on the other side says “Hey, if something does happen, we want to be there to support it.” There's very few brands out there that do that. So to be partnered with Monster Energy, Monster Energy cares, it's a blessing. It truly is a blessing.

MEC: You have an inspiring philosophy regarding life’s obstacles: you don't try and circumvent them — you just go right through them! Tell me about “Adapt and Destroy”?

RT: Ah my favorite saying, Adapt and Destroy! You know, it's a play on “Skate and Destroy” from the 80s and 90s Skate culture. Very similar to the way they took on skateboarding at that time. Let's smash through the barriers that society is placing on us and show that we're more than just a bunch of skate rats. Same thing here. It's showcasing that an individual, after sustaining a life-changing injury, has that opportunity to showcase that: just with that barrier that could exist? Let's smash through that barrier.

And the reason we adapt and destroy is because if we adapt and overcome, well, then everybody after us still has to overcome. We’ll show them how to adapt… but everybody has to overcome. Well, when you adapt and destroy — that barrier is gone. And so now for everybody moving forward, the barrier no longer exists. We're allowed to adapt and destroy and enjoy the day.

MEC: I was able to spend some time with your absolutely gorgeous wife, Alana. She is an amazing adaptive athlete, just absolutely incredible. So what's your story? How did you guys meet?

RT: Alana is an absolutely amazing adaptive athlete. First female in the world to have gold medals in the Summer and Winter Games. Got a gold medal in 2008. And then a second one in 2010. She has a collection of six medals, which is funny because you would think they'd be at our house in a display case or something… they're in a backpack in the back corner of our closet.

But in 2010 she’d just came off the Vancouver Winter Olympics. I had just started the foundation. I was at this really great adaptive ski event. And she was there and when she came into the room, it's like every sound in the room stopped, and she was just like [choir of angels]. And lo and behold, that was my first time meeting her. Then eight years later, we were speaking together at a really great event in New York City, and dropped her off at the airport. I was like “I'm not gonna let this one go.” Gave her a kiss, and now we got a little dude whose birthday is coming up! We're together and having a great time.

MEC: That’s awesome! So speaking of volunteer organizations, we have a couple of incentives in our philanthropy program at Monster Energy Cares, and one of them is paid volunteer time off. What can you tell our employees to help inspire them to use their VTO?

RT: Well, first and foremost, amazing opportunity that monster gives each and every one of you; but second, Darlene can speak to this because Darlene has been to one of these volunteer experiences. Darlene has been to Montana with us for fly fishing, UTV, just overall amazing Montana adaptive trip. And I think that's a big call to action for each and every employee here, and I challenge you: you work for a brand that's built within sport. Well, why not come partner up with an organization that uses sport to reconnect people with community? And I think from the experience that Darlene has, she gets to see firsthand the impact these trips have. So I encourage every single one of you, you work for a brand that's embedded in sports. This is a foundation that uses sports to reconnect people to community. Come on out. Let's have some fun!

MEC: So the second thing people can do, is have a donation to a charity matched by Monster Energy Cares. What does it mean to an organization like yours to get personal donations from people, and not just corporate sponsorships?

RT: You know, when a when a corporate company like Monster comes on board for the foundation to support us, that means a lot. But what means more is when the employees get behind the mission, get behind the vision, get behind the philanthropic efforts and the impact that the organization makes. So as an employee of Monster, we would welcome you to the highest level to be a donor of High Fives — it would mean the world to us. And also, working for this brand, I think it aligns really well with the ethos that is Monster Energy; the people they support, the programs they support. And if you want to have the opportunity to make a donation that literally gives hope? Well that's what we do at High Fives. We provide individuals with life-changing injuries, the ability to have hope again. And that's what your donation will do. That's the simplest blurb about it: Hope is free when you donate to High Fives.

MEC: One last and final question for you, but it’s probably the most important: What’s your favorite Monster drink?

RT: (laughs) It's so funny, earlier as we were going in I looked at both refrigerators. I looked at all the flavors in there, and every single time I do the same thing. I look at all them and go “Oh my God, that would be good to try… that would be good to try..."... and every single time I go to this one! [Ultra White]

There's just something about this can! I don't know what it is. It's Zero Ultra, I love the taste of it. I usually drink it for breakfast, which is kind of weird. Tastes better than coffee! So for me this is my go to for like everything. I recently quit soda too, so this has replaced a lot of things in my life. Yeah, I don't know… white can, clean energy, Zero Ultra… It’s awesome!

Learn more about Social Responsibility at Monster Energy