More than 400 highly-trained volunteer instructors make Killington’s Vermont Adaptive Ski and Sports’ mission of empowering individuals with disabilities possible. Out of a dedicated pool of volunteers, Vermont Adaptive program coordinators recognized this year’s four Volunteers of the Year at off-snow trainings this fall. Phil Crowell of Plainfield, New Hampshire, and Jackie Levine, Barry Whitworth, and Ryan Kennedy, all of Burlington, were named 2018 Volunteers of the Year, a tribute in honor of Jim Hutchinson, a Vermont Adaptive volunteer who left a legacy of empowerment to people of all abilities and commitment towards supporting the organization.
“Each year, there are a few individuals that shine,” said Tom Alcorn, senior program coordinator at Vermont Adaptive. “These folks are involved year-round with Vermont Adaptive in exemplary ways. They each represent the organization as a whole. We’ve had years where a dozen individuals were recognized and years where one single person stood out the most. Jim Hutchinson was the most dedicated volunteer Vermont Adaptive or any organization could hope for. I know he would be so proud of our accomplishments in what we have built over the past years.”
Whitworth and Levine volunteer at many Vermont Adaptive special events including the United States Association of Blind Athletes Winter Festival, the Vermont Adaptive Charity Ride presented by Long Trail Brewing, the Vermont 50, and many summer Division for the Blind and Visually Impaired events. They have been volunteers since 2006 and Special Olympics coaches for more than 10 years. Both are avid cyclists, paddlers and skiers and their love of the outdoors is only matched by their dedication to their athletes.
Crowell is one of the few volunteers who arrives early for a lesson on a regular basis, not only to test the snow conditions but also to prepare for his lessons for the day. He’s a confident lead instructor on most lesson types and specializes in working with participants with autism and developmental disabilities and is a strong assist instructor on all other disciplines. He is a true year-round volunteer by skiing all winter into spring and then he heads right into cycling and paddling as soon as those lessons begin.
“He goes the extra mile to ensure our participants are safe, having fun and always learning,” said Alcorn. “He revels in the joy of his students as they progress in skiing, cycling, paddling and just enjoying the outdoors. He’s even been known to sing beautifully on the lifts and while skiing at Pico and Killington, too.”
Kennedy is a former Vermont Adaptive intern turned volunteer instructor. He teaches full days on the weekends and helps with night lessons at Bolton Valley Ski Area.
“He is sensitive to the needs of our athletes and does everything in his power to help promote their independence and confidence in themselves,” said Kelly Walsh, program coordinator for Vermont Adaptive. “He can do it all and is eager every time I tell him what lesson he is on, even if I switch it seven times in one morning. He goes above and beyond as a role model for other University of Vermont students, organizing carpools and picking up University of Vermont students all over the campus and recruiting more volunteers to be a part of the program he feels so passionate about. Barely old enough to vote, he still prioritizes Vermont Adaptive despite that he is a full-time engineering student as well as a member of ROTC.”
To volunteer at Vermont Adaptive, candidates must participate in off-snow and on-snow training each year. To learn more, visit vermontadaptive.org/get-involved.