Kelly Brush Foundation Furthers Access for All Athletes

From our friends at the Kelly Brush Foundation:

Kelly Brush Foundation grants assist adaptive athletes in purchasing sports gear including monoskis and handcycles. In this image adaptive athlete Chris Jefferson of Aspen, Colo. competes at Copper Mountain in Colorado in December.

The Kelly Brush Foundation awarded $100,514 in grants for spinal cord injury prevention at the end of 2011 enriching the lives of those with spinal cord injuries and furthering the foundation’s mission to improve ski racing safety, Kelly Brush Foundation President Charlie Brush announced.

The foundation granted $53,442 in Ski Racing Safety Grants to ski clubs and race teams across the country, including two grants to Vermont organizations. In addition, the Kelly Brush Individual Grant Program awarded $47,072 for adaptive athletic equipment, including a grant to a South Burlington adaptive athlete.

“Raising the bar for ski racing safety is part of the Kelly Brush Foundation’s core mission. This round of Ski Racing Safety Grants supports clubs and race teams from Maine to Idaho in their efforts to make the safety of their athletes a priority and to change the paradigm for both ski racing and training,” Brush said.

Ski Racing Safety Grants assist racing organizations in purchasing equipment that enhances safety for racers including safety netting to line race courses, padding for chair lift towers and spine protectors for racers. Fifteen clubs and organizations received Ski Racing Safety Grants ranging from $500 to Monroe County Special Olympics, in Michigan to replace old and unsafe helmets to $12,500 to the United States Ski and Snowboard Association Central Region, based in Minnesota, for safety netting to bring the entire region up to full netting on all courses.  Cochran’s Ski Area in Richmond, Vt. and Jay Peak Ski Club in Jay, Vt. received $3,000 each for safety equipment. The Jay Peak Ski Club will use its grant to enhance safety on the mountain’s race course.

“The Kelly Brush Foundation grant makes a huge difference to our small club,” said Brigitte Ritchie, treasurer of the Jay Peak Ski Club. “With only 36 racers in our program, finding funding is always a challenge. Safety equipment like netting to line courses and Willy Bags for chair lift towers is a significant expense.  We are grateful for the foundation’s assistance in helping to make our race trail the safest we can for our athletes.”

The foundation also announced the awarding of 13 Kelly Brush Individual Grants for adaptive athletic equipment. Individuals from across the United States who are living with SCI received financial assistance with purchasing equipment including monoskis and handcycles. Among the recipients was South Burlington adaptive athlete Jeremy Shortsleeve who is a three-time winner of the Keybank Vermont City Marathon and holds the course record in the handcycling division. He received $3,000 for handcycling equipment.

“Enriching the lives of those with spinal cord injury through adaptive sports and recreation is a key goal of the Kelly Brush Foundation. Specialized adaptive equipment, often customized for the individual athlete, can be cost prohibitive.  Through Kelly Brush Individual Grants, the foundation aims to remove financial barriers to participation in adaptive sports,” Brush said.

The Kelly Brush Foundation annual grants are made possible by the foundation’s primary fund-raising event, the Kelly Brush Century Ride, which is held annually in September in Middlebury, Vt. and hosted by the Middlebury College Ski Team. This past September, 24 handcyclists and 721 cyclists rode in support of the foundation’s mission and raised more than $275,000 for the foundation’s programs including adaptive equipment grants, improving ski racing safety, advancing scientific research on SCI and supporting the U.S. Adaptive Ski Team.

About the foundation: The Kelly Brush Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to improving ski racing safety, enhancing the quality of life for those with spinal cord injury(SCI) through providing adaptive sports equipment, advancing scientific research on SCI and supporting the U.S. Adaptive Ski Team.  Kelly Brush, together with her family, started the foundation in 2006 after she sustained a severe spinal cord injury while racing in NCAA Div. 1 competition as a member of the Middlebury College Ski Team in Vermont. The Kelly Brush Foundation affirms Kelly’s ongoing commitment to live life on her own terms and better the lives of others living with SCI. www.kellybrushfoundation.org