For the past three years, Brendan Cavanagh has given to the community he loves at Halloween by hosting the Whistler Haunted House and raising thousands of dollars for local social services.
Now, it's time Whistler returns the favour.
The 33-year-old suffered a broken back while snowboarding on Blackcomb Mountain on Dec. 16. Riding a new board, he attempted a flip off a feature in the terrain park and landed on his back. He is currently without movement from his waist down and underwent successful surgery last week to replace several vertebrae.
Cavanagh has also launched a crowdfunding campaign with a goal of $45,000 to help in his recovery. At press time, he's raised just shy of $5,000, with 77 days to go in the campaign.
While he remains in a significant amount of pain, Cavanagh has kept his spirits high with a positive outlook that has been bolstered by dozens of visits from friends and family in his Vancouver hospital room.
"I've had lots of people come and give me their blessings and their hope, and that really helps me stay up," he said. "That has uplifted me more than any other part of this. I can see how clearly now how valuable my relationships are."
Looking on the bright side of things has never been a problem for Cavanagh, explained his mother, Sue, who said her son has always believed "in the goodness of mankind." But it's the kindness of her son's friends in particular that has helped her through this difficult time.
"For me not being from here and having to leave family and my own life at home and spending Christmas in a hospital room, it's just meant the world to have their smiles and their laughter and their love," she said of the group of Cavanagh's friends she's dubbed "The Whistler Warriors."
Mal Attorp, who met Cavanagh while volunteering on the Whistler Haunted House, is planning an event in the New Year to help with his recovery costs, was amazed at his outlook just days after the life-altering accident.
"Just reading his write-up on his fundraising page, when it's only been a week since the whole thing happened, just seeing his upbeat personality shining through there, it's just awesome," she said.
To Cavanagh, seeing the brighter side of life is first and foremost a choice, and one he intends to apply during his recovery process.
"I could sit in this hospital and not try, and take a wheelchair and be paralyzed for the rest of my life, or I could say, 'Yeah, I'm taking this on even if it kills me," he said. "How many people get that kind of opportunity in their life?"
Donate to Cavanagh's crowdfunding campaign at www.gofundme.com/brendansrecovery.