Thu, Nov 14, 2013 11:21 AM
Photo by Polly Lynn
Killington Resort President Mike Solimano cuts a red ribbon
symbolizing the official opening of the Andrea Mead Lawrence Lodge
The debut of the Andrea Mead Lawrence Lodge at Pico was a
celebration of completion, community and connections that brought
the dreams and plans of many to fruition a month ahead of
In addition to the ribbon cutting festivities on Nov. 8, a gala
open house and wine and cheese party followed on Saturday, Nov. 9,
which was also well attended.
The $1.3 two-story building, which is now the beautiful and totally
accessible new home to both programs, sports two floors of program
rooms, offices, and an elevator. "Ooohs" and "Aaahs" could be heard
as guests wandered from room to room and marveled over the décor
and various spaces that provide for the variety of needs of the two
As the ability to empower individuals with self-confidence and
independence became recognized and valued, Vermont Adaptive grew
into a year-round, statewide non-profit organization with three
winter sites, including Pico Mountain which has also served as
program headquarters since 1999.
Now those headquarters grace the first floor of the new lodge and
feature a myriad of rooms, from the Gibney Garage that provides a
large workshop and storage area to protect and maintain the
adaptive equipment to the Chill Zone, a quiet room for those who
need a reprieve from constant stimulation. There is a room for
volunteers, offices for Vermont Adaptive administrative and program
staff, a small library with educational resources, a family room,
and a large program space that can accommodate wheelchairs,
equipment, supplies, and instructors. The program room is known as
Madi's Room, named after a little girl who loved to ski but passed
away due to complications of hydrocephalous.
The second floor provides a home to the Pico Ski Education
Foundation programs, and also sports a series of room, including a
kitchen, the Karl and June Acker PSEF Board Room, and a large
striking Great Room named in honor of Coach Greg McClallen. The
McClallen Great Room was the festive scene of the celebration and
will also serve the Pico Ski Club programs and accommodate dry-land
training as well as speakers and programs. It can also be rented
out for functions.
The new lodge, which was designed by NBF Architects of Rutland, is
connected by second-floor decks to the Pico Ski Club building as
well as to the Pico's Sports Shop building.
Connections and outreach
The lodge, which was named in honor of Pico's famous Olympian and
daughter of Pico founders Brad and Janet Mead, was made possible by
a tremendous fundraising effort and the response of no less than 68
businesses involved in its construction as well as its many
Event Master of Ceremonies Tom Aicher, secretary of the Pico Ski
Education Foundation, recognized the generosity of the many
contractors who made the lodge possible, noting their tremendous
show of support not only from in-kind gifts of labor or materials
but also from leveraging their contacts to help the project
He also recognized Lynn Boynton, a Vermont Ski Education Foundation
board member, for spearheading the fundraising. She was applauded
as a fundraiser extraordinaire by all present.
Her efforts were supported by many others, including Kristen Kenosh
who has three boys in the Pico Ski Club program. Kenosh reached out
to philanthropist Phill Gross who got in touch with the Turtle
Ridge Foundation, which then donated $100,000 to the adaptive
That donation was in keeping with the foundation's mission to
support "adaptive and youth sports and athletic opportunities" and
to give voice to organizations that seek to "empower the adaptive
sports community." The first floor was named The Turtle Ridge
Adaptive Center in honor of the support from the foundation, which
was founded by Olympic Gold Medalist Bode Miller and his family in
Another person who helped the fundraising efforts was Sarah Will,
who was born and raised in New York, and grew up racing in the Pico
Ski Club program thanks to her family having a vacation home at
Pico. Then she raced for Green Mountain College and was ranked 20th
in the nation. Post graduation, she was enjoying first tracks in
powder in Colorado when she had a devastating accident that left
her paralyzed from the waist down in 1988. Noting she trained and
raced "downhill because I like to go fast," Will said that a year
after her accident she learned to mono ski and the year after that
was racing again.
She also participated in the Vermont Adaptive at Mount Ascutney. At
that time, the program was in its infancy, having begun in
"I haven't missed a season since I was four," Will told The
Mountain Times, emphasizing that she was "inspired by others. I
worked hard and watched those who were better," she said, noting
how empowering mentors and adaptive programs are.
"For me, I didn't know how to be part of the world of adaptive
anything," she said of her reaction to the accident. "I saw how
important they are to independence," she added.
Will went on to the U.S. Disabled Ski Team for 11 years, winning 12
Paralympic Golds and one Silver in Alpine skiing. "The Paralympics
are held one week after the Olympics at the same venue," she
explained, adding, "We had our downhill at Lillehammer on the Men's
Having traveled throughout the country, Will said that "adaptive
programs operate wherever there is space - out of closets, tight
spaces," and that very few mountains have buildings that offer
facilities like those now available at Pico. "It's about much more
than skiing - skiing makes you positive and it's empowering for the
participant - and their families," she added, noting how important
the new spaces like the Quiet Room and Family Room are to families
The Sarah Will Access for All Elevator was named in Sarah's honor
and sports a plaque noting the financial support of Verlene and
Bruce Belden, Pico's third owner/operators that makes the elevator
and its foyer area possible.
The upstairs PSEF elevator foyer was named in honor of Ann Walters
Thompson, who grew up ski racing at Pico and Killington. After a
life-changing injury also left her in a wheelchair, she too became
a world-class competitor and Paralympian in several sports. She is
a familiar monoskier at Pico today. The Killington-Pico Competitors
Trust (Ann, Brian and Cassidy Thompson, Chuck and Betty Hughes)
supported the foyer through their donations.
From dream to reality
Emcee Aicher also explained how the idea for the unique building
came about. Asked by George Potter, a previous mountain manager at
Pico, about how the two programs were doing, Aicher mentioned that
both were flourishing but in need of more space.
Potter suggested that he call Erin Fernandez, Vermont Adaptive's
Director, and the two organizations decided to join forces to build
a facility to serve the respective programs. Cristina Calcagni got
Lynn Boynton passionate about adaptive sports, which proved pivotal
for the fundraising effort then led.
However, they lacked a site and didn't own any land, but they saw a
space that would fit their needs nicely. So along with Kip Dalury,
they sat with Chris Nyberg, formerly president and GM of Killington
and Pico and now Powdr Resorts' president, made their case, and
answered his questions.
Aicher credited Fernandez with doing such a good job that Nyberg
responded, "Let's go see your site." The donation of the land made
the project possible, Aicher noted.
Those pivotal moments along with contractors willing to wait for
payments and the donors made the project a success, he noted,
saying that when a need arose for a required fire
suppression/sprinkler system, John Calcagni (First Line Security)
In addressing the group, Sarah Will noted that as a young racer she
had never imagined getting hurt. But since that time her confidence
and sense of empowerment returned through the encouragement of
adaptive skiing and particularly the inspiration that monoskier Ann
Walters provided her when she got hurt, she said, ending on a note
of gratitude to "all who support the cause."
With the surprise donation by Powdr Corp. of $50,000 at the ribbon
cutting, $100,000 remains to be raised.
Vermont Adaptive Executive Director Erin Fernandez said that Dave
Groom, a father of an UVM student who is an adaptive volunteer, had
already donated funds for the Quiet Room but after the ribbon
cutting, he offered further help by way of matching every donation
dollar for dollar up to $20,000 for the next 30 days or so.
In addition, a local businessman has pledged to donate $250 for
each new Subaru purchased between Nov. 21 and Jan. 2, 2014 at
Kinney Subaru in Rutland.
"It's part of the annual Subaru Share the Love campaign, and we
chose to donate locally," noted Subaru salesman and Rutland City
Representative for District 5-2 Larry Cupoli who attended the
Anyone who would like to help complete this community fundraiser
with a donation can do so by calling 802-353-8129, by emailing
firstname.lastname@example.org, or by visiting