Generosity during this pandemic has been incredible. For an organization like Vermont Adaptive Ski and Sports, that generosity is critical now more than ever. In March, we had to suspend programming at Mt. Ellen. But since then, the support from leaders at Sugarbush Resort, the Mad River Valley community and the Valley’s “extended family” has allowed us to adapt and look toward the future as we move through the present times.
On Tuesday, Dec. 1, hundreds of community members from across the country rallied around Vermont Adaptive’s #GivingTuesday 2020 fundraising campaign, raising more than $135,000 for the organization’s year-round adaptive sports and recreational programs and athlete scholarships. Generosity prevailed even during a pandemic. The organization had its best #GivingTuesday results since it began participating in the global initiative in 2014.
“We are very humbled and grateful to say the least,” said Erin Fernandez, executive director of the nationally recognized non-profit. “This year has been so hard for so many. We really didn’t know what to expect. Our programs are so important to so many athletes with disabilities, now more than ever. We knew we would be thankful for whatever we could raise. But this community has just blown me away.”
While we were able to return to play with very modified programs this past summer and fall, Governor Phil Scott’s latest orders regarding clubs and organizations caused all programs to be suspended again last month and remain on hold indefinitely until those most recent orders are lifted. Fernandez is hopeful to begin winter programs in January 2021. But with an uncertain revenue source from winter programs this upcoming season, fundraising will remain a critical part of the organization’s operations.
“Our first priority is to protect our Vermont Adaptive community, which includes many older folks as well as those with chronic medical conditions or compromised immune systems,” said Fernandez. “The health and safety of our participants, volunteers, staff, and community at large here at Vermont Adaptive is the only aspect that is important right now. But when we can safely return to play, we will be ready.”
“We serve all ages and all people with any type of disability and that includes not only physical disabilities but also developmental, cognitive and emotional behavioral disabilities,” said Fernandez, who said fundraising efforts go toward supporting a $1.5 million operation budget in 2021. “Like many other organizations, we’ve had to adapt in these unprecedented times. Our programs will look and feel a bit different when we do return to play again, especially at Mt. Ellen. But what remains constant is our mission to empower people of all abilities through inclusive sports and recreational programming regardless of their ability to pay. We’ve been doing that for more than 30 years; we’ll keep on going for the next 30.”
People continue to give to support the build of Vermont Adaptive’s new $2 million adaptive sports facility at Mt. Ellen as well (anticipated groundbreaking tentative for Spring 2021). Vermont Adaptive is sourcing materials and contractors who will help with in kind donations. “We look forward to keeping up the momentum because this is absolutely a necessity for our growing programs and will make a difference for all our participants and Vermont Adaptive Community, and the pandemic has proven even more that this facility is needed,” said Fernandez. The organization has raised approximately $1.5 million in cash and in-kind donations and will continue to raise funds for the facility and a sustainability fund. To donate or inquire about naming opportunities, contact Jenn Rand, Director of Development, at 802.786.4991 ext. 30 or email@example.com.
For more information about the new adaptive sports facility at Sugarbush, visit www.vermontadaptive.org/permanent-homes. To make a general donation to support athletes, programs and expensive adaptive equipment, donate online at vermontadaptive.org. You can make phone donations with a credit card by calling 802.786.4991 ext. 30. Donations made by check can be sent to Vermont Adaptive Ski and Sports, PO Box 139, Killington, VT 05751.