Tuesday, July 16th, 2013
Every family faces trials and upheaval. For the Pearce family, this manifested itself in the serious brain injury of their snowboarding superstar son, Kevin.
The story of Kevin’s life-threatening injury and recovery plays out in a documentary that premiered on HBO last night called The Crash Reel. With graphic crash footage, language, and partying, it may not be suitable for children, but it certainly contains lessons from which every parent can benefit.
A Vermont native, Kevin Pearce crashed on New Years Eve, 2009, on a half pipe in Park City, Utah, while attempting a double cork, an extremely advanced snowboarding trick. He was 22 years old and training for the Olympic trials at the time of the crash.
Though it’s about a 25-year-old, even parents of young children will get plenty out of this film, including the importance of wearing a helmet. Kevin now speaks to students, giving testimony on how he wouldn’t be alive today if he hadn’t been wearing his helmet at the time of his nearly fatal crash.
The Crash Reel shows the struggle between headstrong Kevin and his family when Kevin is adamant that he will snowboard again, regardless of the fact that he would almost certainly die or be wheelchair-bound if he were to hit his head once more. The push and pull among family members leads to many tension-filled dinner table discussions centered on complex issues like faith, trust, risk, and concern. Each family member’s feelings are articulated in a way that is sensitive to Kevin’s needs and expresses the deep desire to protect a brother and son they love.
Kevin’s brother David is especially effected by Kevin’s accident. David has Down syndrome (he prefers to call it Up syndrome, because he’s “an up kind of guy”) and faces his own struggle to accept his condition and appreciate where he is.
While Kevin and David both struggle with their individual situations, the family support system is central to each aspect of their progress, and is the backbone for the entire documentary. With each turn of the story line, the mood around the dinner table changes and some new feeling is unearthed.
The film is also informative on concussions and brain injuries, frequently emphasizing the impact that this kind of injury can have on individuals, as well as those who surround him or her. Kevin gives back to families and individuals who are in similar situations through The Kevin Pearce Fund, which supports organizations that help those affected by brain injury and Down syndrome. He also started a campaign called Love Your Brain.
While this may not be a movie to pop popcorn and snuggle in with the kids to watch, it shows viewers something relevant and essential. Acceptance and love can be borne in the direst of situations, and the very real, heart-wrenching story of Kevin Pearce demonstrates just how vital the family is to that discovery. The Crash Reel will be airing all summer on HBO.
- Photo courtesy of HBO.