Twenty-two-year-old Kevin Pearce was one of the world's best snowboarders -- and one of the few who could have beaten out Shaun White for gold in Vancouver. Then a tragic accident left him fighting for his life.
Five months ago, Vermont native Kevin Pearce, son of famed glassblower Simon Pearce, was excited to represent the US at the Olympics in Vancouver. Then, on New Year's Eve, while practicing one of his new snowboarding tricks in Utah, he slammed face-first into the icy 22-foot wall of a halfpipe. He was taken to a Salt Lake City hospital in critical condition and has since been transferred to a Colorado facility that specializes in rehabilitating brain injuries. Though Kevin's family is encouraged, doctors say that he'll have to learn to walk again, and that he'll suffer memory loss and impaired vision.
It's every mother's worst nightmare to receive "that" phone call -- the one that contains an urgent, "Come now." When Kevin's mother, Pia, answered that call, she received terrible news: Her youngest son was fighting for his life. He had been critically injured and it was likely that he would never be the same again.
In the past, Kevin called his father his "idol" and his mother "his anchor." He also said, "My parents being able to give us freedom and trust us really gave us the outlook and ability to go for what we want and strive for it. They were always like, 'Oh, he loves to snowboard, let's take him to the mountains.'"
Raised in Norwich, Vt., Pia and Simon Pearce had four sons -- three with dyslexia and one, David, with Down syndrome. Kevin used sports to escape the frustration of school, so his parents converted a barn on their property into living quarters for Kevin and two of his brothers. The barn came complete with pool and ping-pong tables, a TV room and an attached skateboard ramp.
The four Pearce brothers -- Adam, Andrew, David and Kevin -- stayed out of trouble and made it to
the main house for dinner every night. Their father often didn't read his kids' report cards; he just wanted them to do the best they could. Said Kevin, "It kind of molded us into who we are."
When NBC interviewed the family as part of its Olympics coverage, you could easily see why Kevin called his mom his "anchor:" She was full of strength and grace, standing by her son and her family. Pia says this ordeal with Kevin has been made easier by the lessons she's learned from raising her other three sons -- especially David.