Date of Surgery: 6/28/2016
Update (12/2018): Sean has made a full career return.
My name is Sean Brownell AKA Sean Dog and I live in Haines Alaska! I have been sliding on snow for most of my life skiing and snowboarding in Alaska. I spent some years as a ski instructor at Eaglecrest ski area and began Heliskiing in Juneau Alaska for fun with friends on self-guided excursions in the late 80’s when disco was still a thing! Our skis were skinny and long and appropriately nicknamed disco sticks which directly related to the style of skiing at the time. There were lots of hopping around and wild and erratic moves on slope.
Some friends and I started filming our skiing antics and created a segment called Out of Bounds for a local TV show and later a full-length film called Alaskan Extremes. I went on to participate at the world extreme skiing competitions in Valdez from 1991-1993. In 1995 I started the first guided heliskiing operation in Alaska with my good friend and extreme skiing partner Bruce Griggs. The company is now called Alaska Heliskiing and since its inception I have been guiding heliskiing in many locations throughout Alaska. It’s been an amazing life of skiing and snowboarding and I plan to continue this mountain lifestyle for as long as I can! Every season is full of fun people and unexpected surprises where I never stop learning the many different reasons why a person should just “Go For It!!”
Treatment Procedure and Recovery Plan
“Going for it” your entire life has many rewards but it also comes with a cost of doing business. The human body can only withstand so many beatings and a lifetime of launching off cliffs and high-speed wipeouts will take its toll on us. As the cartilage in my hip began to deteriorate I began to feel considerable pain which, overtime became debilitating. Skiing and snowboarding was still fun but very painful and eventually I could barely even walk despite my own brand of physical therapy and yoga. Guiding was no longer possible for me, I became more of a liability on slope than an asset so I just ran my heliskiing operation from the valley and facilitated fun for others looking up instead of down and that was still rewarding. I yearned to be on slope however, a series of events occurred that left me in a financial crisis and I was unable to afford surgery to repair the damages. I was in sad shape… One of the guides working at my company “Mark Kelly” was from Colorado and told me about the Kees Brenninkmeyer Foundation. I looked them up and went through the application process to become a candidate for the program and with the help of foundation staff, I was approved for financial assistance for a hip replacement. I underwent hip replacement surgery with Dr. Kim who is now working with The Steadman Clinic in Vail, Colorado on June 28, 2016. I completed 6 months of physical therapy after the surgery.
"I have never felt more fortunate or grateful to know somebody out there in the world who totally had my back. When I returned home to Alaska in early July of 2016, I was in better shape than when I left. I felt about 20 years younger and nearly normal! I spent that summer working hard on getting strong and I really do feel great now and am looking forward to a good season with lots of skiing and guiding. I’m so excited to be whole again and I really can’t express my gratitude enough through words. Being able to ski and guide again is just fantastic but the most incredible reward about this whole thing is that I can now share my passion and love for the mountains with my children. There’s no better thing on this earth for me than to ski with my wife and kids and see that twinkle of joy and excitement in their eyes! Thank you Kees Brenninkmeyer Foundation with all my heart, you saved me and my family and gave back the only thing that was missing in my life!"
- Sean Brownell