Last week officials from Vermont Adaptive Ski and Sports filed an Act 250 permit application with the state of Vermont to build a new $2 million adaptive sports facility at Sugarbush Resort’s Mt. Ellen. The application states that Vermont Adaptive is the applicant and Sugarbush Resort is the landowner. If approved, Vermont Adaptive executive director Erin Fernandez said the organization will break ground on the new facility in the spring.
“We’re in the final stages of our fundraising and are grateful for the continued support from Win Smith, Sugarbush, and its new owner, Alterra, to allow us to build our second adaptive sports facility in the state right here at our home at Mt. Ellen,” said Fernandez.
“Friends and participants of Vermont Adaptive’s programs at Sugarbush have pledged a generous challenge to match every dollar up to $1 million for this Sugarbush facility. Sugarbush officials have granted a long-term lease of the land necessary to build upon. We saw huge growth in our programs and the number of people who can participate in year-round sports when we built our first adaptive sports facility at Pico Mountain in 2013. We’re excited for the potential growth in the Mad River Valley with this next phase of our Home Sweet Home permanent homes campaign,” she added.
Architectural plans, renderings and permitting began in spring 2018 for the new 4,000-square-foot adaptive sports facility. Plans for the Sugarbush facility were designed by Jeff Dunham Architecture. Fernandez said that in addition to donations from individuals, the organization is seeking in-kind support in the form of building materials and more.
“We are thrilled to be partnering with Vermont Adaptive in their efforts to build a new adaptive sports facility here at Mt. Ellen,” said Win Smith, president of Sugarbush Resort. “We believe in the great work of Vermont Adaptive and provide full support to realize their vision.”
Vermont Adaptive, which offers year-round daily adaptive sports programs for people with any disability, has a total goal of $4 million to build, open and sustain the facility at Sugarbush, as well as to build a new permanent home on the Burlington waterfront and bike path, and to create a sustainability fund to support these programs and facilities into the future.
“People with disabilities are more likely to have other health issues like heart disease, stroke or diabetes, which is why it is so important to provide programs for people to be active and live a healthy lifestyle,” said Fernandez.
“This new facility allows us to grow and expand our existing programs and to serve more athletes with disabilities in the Mad River Valley and in Central Vermont, for those vacationing in Vermont and beyond. More programs like wellness and environmental camps plus retreats, social events, training seminars and sport specific programs will be added to serve more people. Additional storage and maintenance spaces allow us to increase equipment capacity. The opportunities are limitless. In designing these facilities, we thoughtfully consider and include features that focus on inclusion, adaptability and the participant’s overall experience. It’s a special and exciting time for us as we plant permanent roots in Central and Northern Vermont,” she said.
The organization built and opened the Andrea Mead Lawrence Lodge at Pico Mountain in November 2013 with the Pico Ski Education Foundation, marking the completion of the first phase of the Home Sweet Home campaign. This facility houses the organization’s headquarters and is the hub for year-round programming in southern Vermont and the greater Rutland/Killington region. It is one of the only year-round adaptive sports facilities in Vermont and New England.
Vermont Adaptive began on the ski trails at Mt. Ascutney more than 30 years ago in 1987. As the organization expanded throughout the state to meet the recreational needs of those with disabilities, it also began summer programs to eventually become a nationally recognized year-round organization.