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I want to take a few minutes to tell you my experience with The Vermont Adaptive Ski and Sports program.......

First of all, you need to know that I have a son who just turned 11 years old this summer. Last summer at 10 years old he could not read a street sign as we passed it in the car. He couldn't read the title of a TV show that might be coming up next on TV. He learned the hard way, after entering 3rd grade, that he learned differently then others and came home the first week of school and told me he was the stupidest in the class. This broke my heart to the fullest!

Well, I have been struggling with the school system for several years to help my son, which I thought and trusted they were doing, until last summer when I had enough. I took my son on my own for evaluations and finally got answers as to what my son's learning disabilities were so I could become educated and help him get what he needed!

When I call someone and ask for help or information I am always given another phone number to call. This can go on for days and days and weeks till I am back to the original person I called. It is exhausting mentally to keep explaining the same story over and over to be given another person to call. I felt like I was alone and no one on earth was wanting to help my son! It is a total joke, but what I have learned is it happens every time. Each time I come across someone within the school system I would always ask, is there anything else I can offer my son or do to help. And I am not given any information.

Well, in a chance meeting I met up with Julia Hutchinson. We talked for over an hour about my son's learning disability and my struggles to get him help and she mentioned Vermont Adaptive Ski and Sports at Pico. I went home that night and E-mailed Sue Tatem. I even said in my e-mail..." I am sure this is not the program for my son as he is physically fine but has a learning disability which makes it very hard to follow multi step directions and I am afraid to sign him up for ski lessons with a big group for fear that he will get hurt." I also said, "If you can steer me in the right direction please let me know who to call." I was so used to be being told "we can't help you but, call ?????? that I was totally shocked and sent into tears when I got an instant e-mail saying this is definitely the program for your son!!!!!!

This was the first time in many years I was ever told YES we can help you!!!!! Well, as excited as a mom can get, I signed Jacob up for his first ski lesson with Vermont Adaptive. My husband and I went with him to sign in and I couldn't believe it when 2 volunteers came over and started talking to Jacob. One thing I will never forget is one of them was talking to Jacob about how she heard that he learned to ride a bike this year! I couldn't believe what I was hearing as that meant, she had read everything I had written about Jacob on the sign up sheet. I felt like I was in heaven as I have never felt like anyone takes the time to read what I write about Jacob. I was totally impressed!

Jacob headed out to the slopes with 2 instructors who had him riding the lift and skiing on the first lesson. What I remember the most is Jacob's smile! It didn't go away once and his excitement was beaming! This was the first time ever that Jacob had done an activity that he was not asking to leave or was not struggling to understand what to do. As I video taped, the tears were freezing to my cheeks! I think I was the proudest mom in the world at that moment! And at the end of his lesson he asked "can I go one more time?" This was a first for Jacob and I knew at that moment, that it was meant to be that I found Vermont Adaptive Ski and Sports!

Just being in that VASS atmosphere at PICO gave me an over whelming feeling of happiness. One that is hard to describe! I saw smiles and happiness all over the place. People in wheel chairs laughing with their instructors as they got ready to hit the slopes. Another instructor stooping down to a 5-year-olds level to ask them if they were ready to go have fun and ski. And what most people may forget.. Is these people are not getting paid to do this! They are volunteering! Volunteering their time and smiling while they do it! It amazed me! People get paid to do a job and rarely love what they are doing! I knew I had to be part of this amazing group! I went up to Sue that day and said "I can't ski but I need to help you in some way!" That next Sunday I started working behind the desk. Even though I feel like I am not much help, I feel great being part of this group and seeing all the kindness and the giving of one person to another, each Sunday!

My son learned to ski this winter and LOVED every minute of it! Also, after doing all my homework and learning about his specific disabilities, I insisted he get the help he deserved and with the help of 4 great teachers who care, Jacob learned to read this year too! He looks forward to skiing next season already and is going to learn to water ski this weekend with Vermont Adaptive as well.

This program is one that more people should recognize and realize is out there! I was never told about this program until a chance conversation with a stranger. I feel this is something the school should have known about and told me about. This program has changed my son's life, that is no joke! He has something to look forward too and has found self esteem again after losing it in 3rd grade. He feels like HE CAN DO SOMETHING and he tells everyone now that HE CAN SKI!

I can not thank Vermont Adaptive Ski and Sports enough for what they have done for my son and all of his family who love him. We have seen so many changes in Jacob since he started skiing. I need to tell every volunteer as well, to never ever doubt that they are making a difference! Never feel like helping someone learn to ski may not be a big deal! I am here to tell you IT IS A BIG DEAL! One that can change lives forever!

A proud VASS mom!

~Lisa Swane

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The Vermont Adaptive Summer Program was truly an experience we will never forget. We made this our special “sisters” weekend together. It was a much-needed mini vacation for both of us.

Sailing was, without a doubt, the most awesome summer sport. Neither one of us had sailed before. Esther said when she was steering the sailboat it made her feel in control and momentarily forget about her disability. It gave us great joy to watch others steer the boat and leave their worries behind. It was almost as if everyone’s disability had vanished.

Perhaps what touched our soul and warmed out heart most of all was the genuine kindness Jordan displayed. This ten-year-old boy never hesitated to lend a hand to those in need and accepted people with disabilities for who they truly are. What an amazing kid!

My sister and I are very shy, however we were pleasantly surprised by how quickly we felt at home around staff members and guests. We were fortunate to have been blessed with such a terrific group of people.

Fred Jones speech inspired us and it is evident that Jordan is following his father’s footsteps. While everyone was eating, he asked each of us to share two things that mean the most to us and make us who we are today. One item had to be with us and the other left behind. This activity allowed everyone to start up a conversation and get to know each other.

In closing, we had an incredible time at the Summer Carnival and are truly looking forward to attending the Winter Carnival. The dedicated employees and volunteers of Vermont Adaptive Services give so much more than just a weekend to individuals with disabilities. You provide fun, hope, and memories that will last a lifetime. Thank you to everyone who made the Summer Carnival possible. We hope to see you next year!

~Ester & Ethel Brown

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Karinna is a sweet 15 year old blessed with a fun loving attitude for coping with her cerebral palsy. During the summer heat we (Rich, Kim, Karinna, Lindsay and Ryan Shedrick) arrived at Lake Bomoseen to go for a canoe trip. The kids were giggling with anticipation. We arrived and Donna Stanley had the canoes poised to go, special consideration for Karinna’s needs, water, snacks, life jackets, oars, smile, etc. We divided into two canoes, three people each. Donna immediately provided comfort, care and fun. We went to end of the lake did some exploring, animal watching and muscle flexing on the way there and back. We loved our adventure!

Everyone had a great time and good work-out. Karinna has a bold spirit and she thrives on adventure; she was an active participant. It’s not easy for the whole family to experience the great outdoors without some assistance and planning. We’re so thankful to Vermont Adaptive’s team of caring and spirited professionals. Through your care, Karinna has been able to enjoy and join the family for canoeing, skiing and horseback riding. We all benefit from the fresh-air togetherness.

Sincerely you’re adoring fans,

The Shedricks~ Rich, Kim, Karinna, Lindsay and Ryan

 

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