The Mountain Times

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Andrea Mead Lawrence Lodge opens at Pico Mountain

Photo by Polly Lynn
The Andrea Mead Lawrence Lodge as seen from Pico Mountain.

Officials from Vermont Adaptive Ski and Sports and Pico Ski Education Program welcomed over 100 people to the grand opening of the Andrea Mead Lawrence Lodge at Pico Mountain on Friday, Nov. 8.
The $1.3 million, 6,000 sq. ft. building is a "first-of-its-kind" facility in Vermont and a new permanent home for Vermont Adaptive Ski and Sports and its partner Pico Ski Education Foundation.
Tom Aicher, Secretary of Pico Ski Education Foundation opened the celebration on Friday, thanking the community for their support. "If we dream big, we create great citizens, great community leaders, and world-class competitors. All should have the opportunity for mountain life," he said, continuing to publicly recognized Ed Clarke, from N.B.F Architects of Rutland, who "made the new building look as though it had always been there," and Brent Wilbur, from Naylor & Breen Builders, Inc.
Pico Ski Education foundation is a non-profit organization that supports and enables young athletes to pursue their dreams. Vermont Adaptive Ski and Sports is the largest non-profit organization in Vermont to offer daily, year-round sports programs to people with disabilities from Vermont and around the world. The building is specifically designed for participants in Vermont Adaptive's programs, providing easy accessibility for all, regardless of one's disability.
Erin Fernandez, the executive director of Vermont Adaptive, thanked a lot of new friends and donors, "What we thought was impossible has been brought to fruition through our partnership with Pico Ski Club. Thank you for sharing this proud moment in Vermont Adaptive's history."  Fernandez added, "This is phase one of a three-phase plan (to create state-of-the-art Vermont Adaptive homes) and I feel confident moving forward."
The crowd on Friday drew volunteers, participants, donors, sponsors, partners and community members. Sarah Will, a U.S. Paralympic skier, helped raise $60,000 for the new lodge. She hails from Pico and is a Pico Ski Club alumnus. Will made the transition from able-bodied skier to a mono-skier and became one of the most decorated U.S. winter sports athletes of all time, winning a record 12 gold and one silver medal.
She said, "Pico is the most accommodating and friendly mountain. And this lodge shows how much care, commitment and thought has gone into building exactly what the adaptive community needs."
The President of Killington and Pico Resorts, Mike Solimano, cut the ribbon and acknowledged how much this new building will do for disabled athletes, "All of us have a common goal to support the sport of skiing, and whether able or disabled, all should have the opportunity to enjoy winter sport."
During the ceremony, a $50,000 donation from John Cumming, CEO of Powdr Corp, was presented, leaving approximately $100,000 still to be raised to complete this portion of fundraising. More than $900,000 has been raised in donations and pledges in about a year and a half.
As part of the celebrations, a public open house was held on Saturday, Nov. 9, where 150 volunteers began their adaptive and team building training. On-snow training will begin in December once volunteers have decided on a specific discipline. More than 500 volunteers will now work primarily from the new Vermont Adaptive Headquarters at Pico, while keeping bases at Sugarbush Resort and Bolton Valley Resort.