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Hundreds of community members from across the country rallied around Vermont Adaptive Ski and Sports’ #GivingTuesday 2020 fundraising campaign yesterday, raising more than $135,000 for the organization’s year-round adaptive sports and recreational programs and athlete scholarships. Generosity prevailed even during a pandemic, as the organization had its best #GivingTuesday results since it began participating in the global initiative in 2014.
“We are very humbled and grateful to say the least,” said Erin Fernandez, executive director of the nationally recognized non-profit. “This year has been so hard for so many. We really didn’t know what to expect. Our programs are so important to so many athletes with disabilities, now more than ever. We knew we would be thankful for whatever we could raise. But this community has just blown me away.”
Vermont Adaptive suspended its winter programs last March and then returned to play with very modified programs this past summer and fall. Fernandez is hopeful to begin winter programs on Jan. 2, 2021. But with an uncertain revenue source from winter programs this upcoming season, fundraising will remain a critical part of the organization’s operations.
“Our first priority is to protect our Vermont Adaptive community, which includes many older folks as well as those with chronic medical conditions or compromised immune systems,” said Fernandez. “The health and safety of our participants, volunteers, staff, and community at large here at Vermont Adaptive is the only aspect that is important right now. But when we can safely return to play, we will be ready. The generosity of so many people during Giving Tuesday will allow that to happen.”
This year, the organization harnessed the generosity of a collective matching donation of $30,000 from The Sills Family Foundation, the Kimpton Family, the Vermont Adaptive Board of Directors, and an anonymous donor. The goal was to raise at least $30,000 in order to capture that match. All monies raised will go toward supporting a $1.5 million operating budget for 2021.
“We serve all ages and all people with any type of disability and that includes not only physical disabilities but also developmental, cognitive and emotional behavioral disabilities,” said Fernandez. “Like many other organizations, we’ve had to adapt in these unprecedented times. Our programs will look and feel a bit different when we do return to play again. But what remains constant is our mission to empower people of all abilities through inclusive sports and recreational programming regardless of their ability to pay. We’ve been doing that for more than 30 years, and with donors like we had on Giving Tuesday, we’ll keep on going for the next 30.”
The Tuesday after Thanksgiving is a global day dedicated to giving back. #GivingTuesday follows Black Friday and Cyber Monday with the goal of celebrating generosity and encouraging people to give during the holiday season. It was created to inspire people to take collaborative action to improve their local communities, give back in better, smarter ways to the charities and causes that they support and help create a better world. #GivingTuesday harnesses the power of social media to create a national moment around the holidays dedicated to giving, similar to how Black Friday and Cyber Monday have become days that are, today, synonymous with holiday shopping.
To make a donation, donate online at vermontadaptive.org. Phone donations can be made with a credit card by calling 802.786.4991 ext. 30. Donations made by check can be sent, noted with #GivingTuesday in the memo, to Vermont Adaptive Ski and Sports, PO Box 139, Killington, VT 05751.