Why “High Fives Are Free”

Posted: October 10, 2011 in Uncategorized

So I’ve been asked a lot lately, “Rich, what is this high five thing all about???” Let me explain. Basically, 2010 was a tough one for me. I was badly injured in an accident where I totally tore my ACL, partially tore my PCL and meniscus, dislocated my patella, and my LCL ripped out of my fibula and took a piece of bone out with it. I was on the operating table for 6 hours last St. Pattys Day, followed by six months of physical therapy, and am still not 100% as I have some lasting effects from extensive nerve damage that is causing my foot to be less that 100% mobile. I should be back to 100% in another 6 months with some hard work. During that time, I was told “no” by several people in my life. Doctors telling me I wouldn’t be able to walk again normally ever if at least for quite a while, therapists saying no you can’t do that yet, or this, my then fiance telling me we CAN’T afford the wedding that I wanted, my job telling me that we CAN’T win this contract or that contract. Well after being on pain killers for three months after the surgery, I stopped taking them obviously because I was getting better and had virtually no pain. Doctors didn’t warn me about the high possibility of withdrawal symptoms, such as paranoia and anxiety. Combine that with all the “No’s” I was hearing in my life, it became very easy for me to be a very negative thinking person. In just a short few months, I went from being the most optimistic person one could ever meet to a complete zombie, with the “Deer in Headlights” look 24/7. I was scared to do ANYTHING, always looking over my shoulder, couldn’t make a simple decision, and could hardly form a sentence. I tried reaching out for professional help, saw a therapist a couple times, tested for hyperthyroidism (a precursor to depression and Graves disease) but the effects got too great and i was afraid to leave my house. My engagement ended and a day later I walked away from my job, virtually shutting down 100%.

During my two month mental “vacation”, my life flashed before my eyes. I though about all the stuff I had came to regret, all the dreams that I fell just short on, all the things people told me no I couldn’t do. I decided once and for all that I was NOT going to let one more person tell me I couldn’t do something. I knew instantly I wanted to go into business for myself and somehow give back to the community. I have started a number of business ventures, but I’m most proud of is High Fives Are Free. My motivation is to promote positive thinking to all ages, to encourage people to follow their dreams. In March, proceeds from the online store benefited the National Alliance on MentaL Illness, a donation of just under $120, which will help continue to make resources available to people with depression, anxiety, and other illnesses. From the “High Five West Side” event in May, custom shirts were sold (and still currently being sold) and a donation will be made to both Neighborhood House and Humboldt High School upwards of $300 for each. This will help promote life building skills to our neighborhood youth and provide resources to our communities current role models to our future ones. Between July and September, H5RF pledged to donate $1 for each new facebook fan to the Alzheimers Foundation, a cause close to my heart that, according to new research, has been linked to prolonged stress and anxiety. We’re proud to say that we took on 103 new fans!!!

If you believe that our best days are ahead of us, if you believe that there needs to be more awareness and less stigma associated with mental illness, I encourage you to subscribe to this blog and become a fan of High Fives Are Free at http://www.facebook.com/highfivesarefree. We are dedicated to supporting our community and the great people in it. High Five!!

  1. Ann Nystrom says:

    Rich I am truly touched by your story, your visions and your ability to share an emotional side most have trouble putting into words! HIGH FIVE brother! 🙂

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