Thursday, February 11, 2010

Nick's Biography

February 5, 2003 started out as an ordinary school day but ended up being one that changed 14 year-old Nick Prefontaine's life forever. He left early for school, forgetting the helmet he always wore when snowboarding. After school, accompanying fellow students from his school's ski program to Mt. Wachusett, he decided to do some extreme snowboarding in the terrain park. As he approached a jump going full speed, he realized he was going to have a problem...

"Catching an edge" on his snowboard is the last thing Nick remembers about that day. He doesn’t remember the fall from the 15-foot jump that landed him in a coma with multiple injuries, most particularly a life-threatening brain injury. He doesn’t remember the ambulance ride to the emergency room when paramedics administered anesthesia to relax muscles contracted by his head injury, then inserted a breathing tube to help him breathe again. He doesn’t remember the weeks in intensive care at UMass Memorial Medical Center in Worcester, Mass., while his family worried for what his future might be. Doctors didn’t know if Nick would walk or talk again, or even breathe on his own.

About Hope
After three weeks in a coma, Nick gradually improved. After a month at UMass Memorial Medical Center, he was transferred to Franciscan Hospital for Children in Boston where he learned to swallow and walk and talk and read again. Nick first communicated by blinking, then by thumbs-up signals, then by drawing, and finally by speaking.

About Goals and Persistence
As an inpatient for two months at Franciscan Hospital for Children, with double sessions of intense therapy (occupational, physical, and speech therapy, and tutoring) from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., Nick always asked for the more difficult exercises. In physical and occupational therapy six days a week, he was determined to improve as quickly as possible to return home to his family, friends, and his education.

Because he had continuing issues with his right arm and hand, he learned to write with his left hand. A family member was always with him, encouraging and supporting him, but it was Nick’s determination that made the difference. Doctors say his recovery is nothing short of miraculous and Nick is grateful for it all. For an understanding of how accidents like this impact the family, read Nick's Dad's Story.

About Success and the Future
In spite of his continuing months of therapy and recovery, Nick graduated eighth grade with his classmates, getting good grades, and entered Shrewsbury High School with his friends. After regaining his skills as a freshman, he entered Saint John’s High School as a sophomore where he made the Honor Roll and graduated with his class, moving on to the rest of his life.

Living in Rhode Island with his parents and sister, Nick is avidly learning about real estate as a business and has recently purchased several commercial real estate properties in collaboration with his parents and partners. He owns a company with his father that is focused on real estate investment, and business growth education and coaching.

About Professional Speaking
As a motivated and focused young man, Nick has spoken “kid to kid” to groups of students about his experience and the importance of making good decisions. He has a natural rapport with people of all ages and has spoken to adult and mixed audiences from 30 to 800 about overcoming adversity and the power of motivation and goal-setting. Nick has spoken to rapt audiences at high schools, awards ceremonies, corporate regional conferences, business associations, medical center openings, and fundraising events.

About Honors and Awards
As an acknowledgment and tribute to Nick’s courage and commitment, Franciscan Hospital for Children presented him with the prestigious Profile in Courage Award in May 2005. Shrewsbury (Massachusetts) Youth & Family Services awarded Nick the Outstanding Youth of Shrewsbury Award in March 2005. Most recently, Nick received the Boston Celtics "Heroes Among Us" Award in November 2005. In September 2006, Nick presented the Profile in Courage Award to the 2006 recipient at the Franciscan Hospital for Children Community Leadership Awards Dinner Gala in Boston. Nick was again honored, this time with past Profile in Courage recipients, at the 2007 Franciscan Hospital for Children Community Leadership Awards Dinner Gala in Boston.

About Commitment
As a way of giving back, in gratitude and in honor of the caring and committed staff at Franciscan Hospital for Children in Boston, Nick and his family created the Prefontaine Fund and actively fundraise to support annual projects that promote the health and well-being of the remarkable children from around the world at Franciscan. Recent projects include 'Nick's Room', a state-of-the-art physical and occupational therapy room, and a new indoor/outdoor Solarium Room, both located on the medical rehabilitation unit where Nick received his life-changing rehabilitation after his accident. For more information, go to

Read Nick's Dad's Story


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