ASPNC was thrilled to welcome 18 adaptive athletes to Soaring Spirits 2021! Athletes had the opportunity to go up in a glider plane with the Franconia Glider Foundation, ride bikes with Eastern Adaptive Sports and enjoy a lunch donated by the Franconia Market and Deli. This is the sixth year the Franconia Glider Foundation has partnered with ASPNC for Soaring Spirits, an adaptive day to let your spirit soar!
ADAPTIVE SPORTS PARTNERS OF THE NORTH COUNTRY NAMES KELLY WALSH AS ITS NEXT EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR Adaptive Sports Partners of the North Country (ASPNC) is excited to announce the hiring of Kelly Walsh as its next Executive Director. Kelly will become the organization’s third leader in its nearly 13 years of enriching the quality of life for people with disabilities in the north country through year-round sports, recreation, and wellness programs. “We are excited that Kelly will be joining ASPNC. Kelly’s passion, experience, wisdom, and vision will help us move from strength to strength. We are grateful that Thomas and Kelly will have a chance to work together over the summer so as to ensure a smooth transition and a successful Sunrise Ascent, our biggest fundraiser. Together with our vibrant community of volunteers and capable staff, we are confident that Kelly will continue to advance the ASPNC mission,” says ASPNC Board President Shane MacElhiney Kelly earned her undergraduate degree from Rutgers University and a Master’s degree in Recreational Therapy from Indiana University. She has a deep background in adaptive sports as well as significant experience leading and growing high-quality recreational programs. “ASPNC is an amazing organization, and I am so excited to be joining this wonderful community. I have been fortunate to collaborate with ASPNC in my previous position and know that I am joining a hard-working, dedicated, mission-driven team. I am ready to continue the great work of Sandy and Thomas–and so many others in the community–to help ASPNC continue to grow and enrich the quality of life for people with disabilities in meaningful and significant ways.” Kelly comes to ASPNC with over 10 years of experience in the field of Adaptive Sports. Prior to joining ASPNC, she worked as Program Coordinator for Vermont Adaptive Ski and Sports, growing and establishing many adaptive sports programs in Vermont. Most recently, she served as Athletic Director for Kingdom East School District and Parks and Recreation Director for the Town of Littleton, focusing on creating inclusive programming and building access to outdoor recreation for everyone. Kelly holds various certifications including being a Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist, Certified Adaptive Recreation and Sport Specialist, a Level 1 Adaptive SUP Instructor, and a PSIA Level 1 Adaptive Ski Instructor. She has also been chosen to present on adaptive sports at the National Outdoor Recreation Conference. Kelly currently lives in Lyndonville with her partner, Seth, their two kids, and three dogs. She is an avid skier, ultrarunner, Ironman finisher, and lover of the outdoors.
195PARTICIPANTS 24,000MILES LOGGED $85k RAISED IN 2020 As we have learned this year, we must be able to adapt. It is something we at ASPNC do best, especially when it comes to making outdoor sports, recreation, and wellness activities accessible to all! This year we’ve had to adapt our most important fundraising event, The Sunrise Ascent on Mt. Washington. Since we could not hike as a large group, we launched the July Mileage Challenge through the month of July, at a time when we would typically be training for the ascent. The July mileage challenge was a virtual or remote event allowing people to join a team from anywhere in the world! Throughout the month of July, we challenged our athletes and mules to partake in an “any which way you can” mileage challenge for the month of July to promote healthy, human-powered exercise and recreation. Ride, run, walk, paddle, or roll, just be active! Some of the activities we saw logged included: walking, biking, rowing, running, tennis, kayaking, wheelchair tennis, hiking, disc golf, krav maga, lawn mowing, swimming, handcycling, glide cycling, yoga, awareness through movement, peloton, interval training, roller blading, gardening, paddle boating, and golf. Though we set our initial mileage goal at 6,288 miles (Mt. Washington is 6,288 feet tall), we quickly realized that the summit was far too low for our group! By the end of July, our more than 190 participants logged over 24,000 miles of human-powered recreation. On August 2nd, 2020, in celebration of this amazing effort, we hosted a sunrise car parade up the Mt. Washington Auto Road. Heading up the auto road in the predawn hours, we were greeted at the summit with a sunrise view of the majestic Presidential Mountain Range and even a rainbow or two. Click here to see more about the 11th Annual Sunrise Ascent on Mt. Washington
In my life, there have been just a handful of experiences that were so powerful that they moved me to tears. One of those was following my first volunteer experience with Adaptive Sports Partners of the North Country. Being new to the North Country, I was eager to get involved in the community and contribute in a positive way. ASPNC seemed like a great way to do that. On my first outing, I worked with a young participant who was skiing for the first time. Her parents looked on with video camera in hand. I could tell they were excited, but a little nervous. With the help of ASPNC volunteers, she started making her first turns down the slope. Her parents were cheering and smiling from ear to ear. They were bursting with pride and joy. So was I. As I became more familiar with the organization, I learned that my experience was not unique. There are many stories like mine that ASPNC volunteers, participants, and families can share. Below, Joanne Huff, who has been involved with ASPNC for more than five years with her daughter, Sasha, shares the life-enriching, life-changing impact that ASPNC has had on her family. When my daughter, Sasha, first experienced seizures 15 years ago, they occurred infrequently. However, they insidiously gained momentum and frequency. Eventually, she was diagnosed with Lennon-Gasteaux, a form of irretractable epilepsy. As Sasha’s neurologist continued tight oversight, I felt helpless as we watched Sasha’s seizures go from once or twice a year to once or twice a month to several per week. At one point she experienced nine grand mal seizures in one day. I will never forget the day I sat with our doctor and said out loud something I was so afraid to say. “I am concerned that we are approaching her ultimate demise,” I whispered to the doctor in case Sasha could understand. The neurologist most definitely saw the fear and grief behind my eyes. He offered one last medication trial and off to the pharmacy I went. I can still see the calendar so vividly, checking off each day that passed without a seizure. “Seven days in a row could not be right, could it?” I wondered to myself rechecking the math. But then, one week turned into many. Time continuously strung together until, remarkably, we hit one full year. Fast forward to today as I write this, when one year became seven. So much has been gained since then and one thing that came out of that difficult era was the gift of time. As a family, we went from never knowing what any given day would bring to being able to make plans. We wanted to see what life could look like for a healthier Sasha. It was around this time that we met Adaptive Sports Partners of the North Country, like a swift, unanimous answer to all of those “what ifs?” … When we first crossed paths with ASPNC five years ago, I had
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The 10th Annual Anthem Sunrise Ascent on Mt. Washington held on August 4th saw 13 athletes with various disabilities reach the summit of Mt. Washington and raised more than $100,000 to support year-round opportunities for sports, recreation, and wellness for people with disabilities. This major event benefits Adaptive Sports Partners of the North Country (ASPNC) and New England Disabled Sports (NEDS). The Anthem Sunrise Ascent challenges athletes with varying degrees and types of disabilities to reach the summit of Mt. Washington, the highest peak in the Northeast, by hiking the Mt. Washington Auto Road. This year, 13 adaptive athletes—each with their own support team—successfully completed the inspiring and arduous journey to the summit. The event drew nearly 300 individuals from all over the New England region and beyond. “The Anthem Sunrise Ascent raises nearly 1/3 of the annual budget for ASPNC” says ASPNC Executive Director Thomas Shovlin. “None of this would be possible without the support of hundreds of participants, community businesses and donors, and our two top-level sponsors, Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield in New Hampshire and the Mt. Washington Auto Road.” Anthem was the summit sponsor and the Mt. Washington Auto Road delays its opening and provides significant contributions as the host of this event. In addition to the challenge of reaching the summit, each team competes in a peer-to-peer fundraising campaign with the goal of raising $6,288 for the height of Mt. Washington. Nearly every team reached this goal. The top fundraising team was led by Sasha Segal of Woodsville, NH. Together, Team Sasha raised over $30,000. Other teams were led by Becca Coulter of Lancaster, NH, Bex Fillmore of South Weymouth, MA, Charlie Walker of Littleton, NH, Chester Eastwood of Conway, NH, Jimbo Bonneau of Rochester, NH, Erik Kondo of Lexington, MA, Greg Durso of Burlington, VT, Jesse Walker of Wolfeboro, NH, Marsha Gray of Waterford, VT, Linda Shurpik of Concord, NH, and Martin Wallem of Epping, NH. “This event continues to grow every year, and its due to the passion of our volunteers, participants, and donors and sponsors. It goes to show the power of team work and community and does so much to provide life-enriching opportunities for people with disabilities. We are looking forward to an even bigger event, including more athletes next year on August 2, 2020 for our 11th Annual Sunrise Ascent,” says Shovlin. “Thank you to the Mt. Washington Auto Road, Mt. Washington State Park, our summit sponsor Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in New Hampshire, our halfway house sponsor Bank of New Hampshire, our mile marker sponsors Eversource and Noyle Johnson Insurance, mule team sponsors FLIR, Franconia Gas, Turtle Ridge Foundation, Paramount Electric, and our toll house sponsors Tender Corporation, Walker Motor Sales, Inc., Little City Thrift Store, and Franconia Auto Service Team — all of whom made this milestone 10th year the best yet.” “Improving the lives of the people in our communities is our mission at Anthem. That’s why we’re proud to be a supporter of Adaptive