Who doesn’t like an inspirational story? Climb is a documentary of courage and determination that begins with Neil Myers, who lives in Santa Barbara. It had its world premiere at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival. It also won the best documentary in the Sweden Film Awards and has been selected for the Columbia Film Festival in Columbia, South Carolina. It will appear in a unique festival in Electra, Texas, at the Cowpokes International Film Festival.
In case you didn’t attend our festival this year, SBIFF had a unique way of getting around the pandemic – executive director Roger Durling and his gang created two drive-in “theatres” in SBCC parking lots using LED screens. They were able to show 80 films, playing four times a day for 50 cars.
If you didn’t meet Neil on a bike path you may know his marketing firm called Connect. He’s been involved for 31 years in marketing consulting, web design, graphic design, animation, illustration, video editing, videography, and digital marketing. He has helped more than 450 companies tell their story. You can also find more information about the documentary at Climbdoc.org.
Neil grew up in Santa Rosa, California, riding a bike the way most of us do as kids. He didn’t start riding seriously until he was 55. He weighed 250 pounds but got down to 200 to begin his new hobby. He is now a 61-year-old amateur triathlete who has done individual triathlons where he swims, bikes, and runs and typically finishes in the middle of the pack. But he also has done triathlons as part of a relay team. Two years ago, his team had just won the biggest race of their life, the NTC Triathlon with 4,000 participants. Sadly, just four weeks later he was in the ICU at Cottage Hospital.
Neil was enjoying a perfect Santa Barbara day with his road bike descending on Gibraltar Road in August 2019. He saw a flash of a pickup truck and two-tenths of a second later the truck hit him head on. He broke 22 bones including both wrists, one of his legs, nose, seven ribs, and deep lacerations plus a brain bleed.
He was in Cottage Hospital for nearly a month and then spent four months in rehab before getting back on his “horse.” Neil told me, “On one of my first trial runs I came upon an accident with a person laid out on the ground and the sirens of an ambulance arriving. My family heard them too and didn’t know who they were for. A frightening time for the family.”
One year after getting out of the hospital, he and his team set out to win the Santa Barbara Triathlon, which they had been trying to do for five years. This time it worked. Now Neil was ready to give back. Many people encouraged him, but it culminated at the Tiara Ball in the Bacara Hotel. It’s a fundraiser for Cottage Health. They showed a video about Neil’s accident, using him as their spotlight patient. Hundreds of people were at the ball and gave him a standing ovation, having been so moved by his story.
Neil began to realize how the story could motivate donors. Cottage has used this story extensively in advertising, social media, print, etc. Neil would like to tell his story in order to raise money for hospitals around the country. He plans to do screenings in various cities to raise money for trauma centers. Santa Barbara has the only Level 1 Trauma Center between Los Angeles and San Francisco. That’s probably why Neil survived. He was only four minutes away and given how fast he was bleeding, that was critical.
Having a Level 1 Trauma Center nearby is an important goal, making the difference between life and death. That’s Neil’s mission. For more information, call Neil at 805-453-6208.