The Mountain Times

°F Wed, April 16, 2014

Central Vermont's Most Popular Weekly Newspaper

Vermont Adaptive partners with United States Association of Blind Athletes to host sixth annual Winter Ski Festival

Up to 30 blind and visually impaired participants including five veterans to ski at Pico Mountain

The United States Association of Blind Athletes (USABA) in partnership with Vermont Adaptive Ski and Sports will host its largest gathering of skiers who are blind and visually impaired at its Sixth Annual Winter Ski Festival in Killington, Saturday, Feb. 9 and Sunday, Feb. 10 at Pico Mountain.

Up to 30 athletes with visual impairments will be given the opportunity to learn to ski or race in the sports of Alpine and Nordic skiing, while spending a weekend in the Green Mountains of Vermont. Athletes will be attending from New England states, and as far south as Florida and North Carolina and west to Pennsylvania, Ohio, Wisconsin and Minnesota.

The event is open to all ages, all abilities and all ski levels. Trained guides and instructors are provided by Vermont Adaptive, the largest year-round disabled sports non-profit organization in Vermont, which is committed to empowering individuals with disabilities.

This year, a group of five Veterans will join the festivities. The USABA Military Sport Program works to enhance the lives of disabled Veterans and Service Members who are blind or visually impaired and to accelerate their rehabilitation process through sport, physical activity, and recreation; as well as assist in the integration of those individuals back into their local community. Mark Lucas, USABA's executive director said, "USABA is extremely pleased to partner with Vermont Adaptive to provide an opportunity for skiers who are blind and visually impaired. Now in its sixth year, the event has really expanded with meet-and-greet receptions, Alpine and Nordic skiing sessions, a banquet, and a biathlon demonstration using a sonar laser rifle."

In addition, six athletes from Vermont were awarded scholarships for their winning essays from a contest held by the Vermont Division of the Blind and Visually Impaired and Vermont Adaptive. Applicants had to write about how sports and recreation help other aspects of their lives and how they would help spread the word to other people about the importance of sports through the programs of Vermont Adaptive and USABA.

Grant funding for this program is awarded by U.S. Paralympics, a division of the U.S. Olympic Committee, through funding provided by Veteran Affairs. The grants are provided to facilitate the growth of Paralympic-sport programming for disabled Veterans and disabled members of the Armed Forced.

For more information, visit www.usaba.org or contact: Mark Lucas at USABA at: (719) 352-9134 or Tom Alcorn at VASS: (802) 353-7584.