In February 2006 Rubin Ortiz became legally blind. His eye sight had deteriorated over the years due to Myopic Retinopathy. The first signs that things were different were associated with his daily routine – he was running into obstacles like mailboxes and street signs. He arrived in Burlington, Vermont in August 2007 looking for ways to pursue new activities with the onset of his blindness. He found Vermont Adaptive Ski and Sports, which made cycling, kayaking, sailing, and canoeing possible.
“During one of those between flight conversations at an airport, I mentioned jokingly that downhill skiing was one of those activities I would have to give up now that I was ‘blind-er,’” said Ortiz, a native of Puerto Rico. “Someone in the group corrected me. He mentioned that he was aware of techniques that allowed blind skiers to ski – guides, radio contact and other modifications. It began to sink in. This is something I had to try. Vermont Adaptive was able to accommodate my impairment expertly. During my first visit we used a pole that kept me in contact with the guides at either side of me. We skied as a team, where my job was to make sure the three of us fell at regular intervals. How exhilarating! By my second visit I was skiing with only voice commands assisting me.”
Vermont Adaptive is a nationally recognized organization that empowers people of all abilities through inclusive sports and recreational programming regardless of ability to pay. In addition to sports, year-round programming options integrate environmental, holistic wellness, and competitive training philosophies for people of all ages with cognitive, developmental, physical and emotional disabilities. We are recognized nationally for our client-centered programs and for providing access and instruction to sports and recreational activities with the belief that these things provide a physical, mental and social experience that is immeasurable in promoting self-confidence and independence in an individual. Access and instruction to sports and recreational opportunities include alpine skiing, snowboarding, and other winter sports; kayaking, canoeing, stand-up paddle boarding, sailing, cycling, hiking, rock climbing, tennis, horseback riding, environmental programs, CORE Connections wellness retreats, and more.
The 9th Annual Vermont Adaptive Charity Ride presented by Long Trail Brewing will be held June 22-23, 2019 and riders and volunteers are needed. This is the organization’s largest fundraising event of the year. Multiple routes are available to bike, including a century, 60-, 40- or 20-mile plus a family-friendly 5K bike ride or mountain bike session at Killington Resort. After the ride, enjoy live music with Starline Rhythm Boys and Duppy Conquerers at the after party at Long Trail Brewery, with a huge spread of food, kids activities, a vendor village, silent auction and more. Or just come to the party – either way, please help us reach our goal of raising $300,000 for our adaptive sports programs. More info at https://charityride.vermontadaptive.org
Year-round, Vermont Adaptive serves clients of all abilities with physical, cognitive and emotional/behavioral disabilities from all over the world in three locations in Vermont during the winter – Killington Resort and Pico Mountain in Killington; Sugarbush Resort in Warren; and Bolton Valley Ski Area in Bolton. Summer programs are provided state-wide. Many of our programs include environmental education, wellness, and special programs designed specifically for veterans.
With nearly 400 active volunteers, plus generous partners and sponsors, and an amazing base of clients and friends, Vermont Adaptive Ski and Sports has been at the forefront of sports and recreation for those with disabilities for more than 30 years.
More information about volunteering, participating or donating can be found at www.vermontadaptive.org.