5. KELLY BRUSH DAVISSON: A RIDER WITH A CAUSE
When Kelly Brush lost an edge during a ski race and crashed into a lift stanchion in 2006, it was the end of what could have been a promising career as a ski racer. She had been racing for Middlebury College at the time, teeing up to follow in the tracks of her mother, Olympic ski racer Mary Seaton and her father, Charlie Brush, a Middlebury ski racer and coach.
Kelly was left facing life in a wheelchair. But it was the start of something: with her then-boyfriend and now-husband Zeke, and her family she started the Kelly Brush Foundation “to empower people with spinal cord injuries to lead active and engaged lives.” In the last 15 years, the foundation has raised millions to help buy adaptive equipment for athletes, to provide protective netting for ski races (including the Killington World Cup) and to offer grants to those with spinal cord injuries so they can get back into sports.
The 2019 Kelly Brush Ride alone drew 855 cyclists to Addison County and raised $755,000. Brush-Davisson, now a mother and pediatric nurse practitioner in Burlington, still does many of the sports she once did. She rides a handcycle, surfs, plays tennis and has even skied Tuckerman Ravine. “I honestly don’t think my life is much different than before I had the accident,” she told VT Ski + Ride on the 10th anniversary of her crash. “I would not have started the foundation but everything else, I just do.”