KBF Ambassador: Matt Tilford
Matt Tilford’s interests in the outdoors are multi-faceted and diverse, and range from kayaking to hiking to biking. A recent grant from the Kelly Brush Foundation allowed him to expand his interests to the wonderful world of mountain biking and upon the very first ride, he was instantly hooked and knew he wanted to spend the rest of his life getting as many people out on the trails as possible.
Matt believes firmly that the outdoors are for everyone, period, no matter what kind of adaptive equipment or adjustments are required to get them there. This love of the outdoors began at an early age growing up in Northern California, but a serious car accident 12 years ago threw a wrench in his plans. However, at the age of 18, Matt woke up from a month-long coma and learned he would never again have feeling or function below the waist, throwing him into a serious depression that lasted a couple of years. Matt eventually started getting curious about adaptive athletes and outdoor recreation opportunities, and a friend taught him the ropes of adaptive wakeboarding, which was the catalyst to Matt remembering how fulfilling it was to be active in the outdoors world.
Since then, Matt has spent the last decade working and volunteering in the disability community, from running an adaptive recreation program in Modesto, California, to working in the medical supply industry in Oakland, California. Most recently, Matt has relocated to Salt Lake City, Utah to be even closer to the adaptive recreation world and has become enamored with the incredible opportunities in the Mountain West. He participates in programs at the National Ability Center in Park City and the University of Utah Trails Program. He now works at REI and spends his time helping people from all walks of life explore the outdoors in addition to volunteer work, mentoring new spinal cord injuries and helping them adjust to the new normal.