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Dec. 6, 2016 — Tom Alcorn, senior program coordinator at Vermont Adaptive Ski and Sports, recognized four volunteers at Vermont Adaptive’s Volunteer Orientation last month at Pico Mountain and Sugarbush Resort. Mike T. Burke, Mike H. Burke, and Gail and Bob Regan were named 2016 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. The four were nominated for their immeasurable dedication and efforts to help people with disabilities and special needs recreate statewide.
“Each year, there are a few individuals that shine,” said Alcorn. “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 last year.”
Mike T. Burke, of Quechee, was nominated for his skiing ability and teaching skills. “But what truly sets him apart is the ability to make everyone around feel included in a team,” said Alcorn. “If a fellow volunteer needs help with anything he is always there to land a hand. He is extremely giving of his time, energy and positive nature and has been invaluable to all of our program coordinators state-wide throughout the year, not just during the winter.”
Mike H. Burke, of Gaysville, has been a year-round volunteer with Vermont Adaptive for close to a decade and his participant’s safety, joy and learning are the highest priority on any lesson or summer outing he is involved with. “His diverse talents include paddling, biking, skiing, and the occasional snowboarding lesson even though he claims not to be a snowboarder,” said Alcorn. “His ‘can do’ attitude makes everyone’s day consistently enjoyable.”
Gail and Bob Regan, of New Haven, are committed to volunteering for the organization year-round, just as much during the summer as in the winter. Gail brings her expertise as a health, human movement and sport associate professor at Castleton University to all of her lessons, and has a unique ability to remain calm in stressful situations and adapt to last minute changes. Her husband, Bob, has a light-hearted sense of humor and quiet strength, making for a creative and fun instructor and guide with a “You got it, boss,” attitude.
It is the passion, talent, dedication and generosity of individuals like these that has helped to make Vermont Adaptive Ski and Sports the successful organization it is today and help people with disabilities rediscover their potential. At Vermont Adaptive more than 400 trained volunteers dedicate their free time as summer and winter recreational instructors throughout the entire state of Vermont, as well as providing support for fundraising and events. Collectively, Vermont Adaptive volunteers put in more than 24,000 hours annually and the organization would not be where it is today without the support of these individuals.