The Lounsbury Adaptive Skip program at Holiday Valley in Ellicottville has helped make the ski slope a place that everyone, even those with a physical or cognitive handicap, can enjoy.
Recently, the program decided to establish an agency fund, the Lounsbury Adaptive Agency Fund, at the Cattaraugus Region Community Foundation to make sure that the slopes will be a welcoming place for everyone for many years to come.
The slopes may be green now, but the Lounsbury Adaptive Ski program is busy planning year-round to bring the joy of a winter day on the hill to all they can reach.
The Lounsbury program offers ski lessons from volunteer expert ski instructors to individuals with physical or cognitive disabilities, including spinal cord injuries, Down syndrome, spina bifida, cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, traumatic brain injury, visual impairment, autism and developmental delay. Additionally, the program has helped provide adaptive ski lessons to veterans who served in active combat.
The Lounsbury program operates from Dec. 26 to mid-March every year.
According to Bill Bredenberg, Lounsbury program director, the agency fund is an investment for the future growth and stability of the program.
“We are grateful because we have had very successful fundraising efforts, including our annual Penguin Paddle Fundraiser,” Bredenberg said. “Our expenses can be high; a new piece of equipment can be $7,000-$8,000, and things like uniforms and training expenses add up.”
All the program’s funding currently comes from individual donations, Bredenberg said.
“We wanted to make sure to put some of the additional funds we had to use,” he added.
The fund at the community foundation will provide the agency annual, expected income in addition to the funds the program raises on its own throughout the year.
The fund also may offer the agency a chance to support adaptive sports other than skiing.
“Down the road we may want to expand into other outside activities, whether that be winter weather- or summer weather-based activities,” Bredenberg said. “We may be able to support other adaptive programs, like horseback riding, kayaking or sailing programs with a donation as well.”
Bredenberg’s knowledge of community foundations came from a fund that another organization he is involved with established at the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo.
“We have been very happy with that experience,” he said. “And we wanted to be in the community that we work and breathe in [with CRCF].”
CRCF Executive Director Karen Niemic Buchheit praised the Lounsbury Adaptive Ski Program and its work to provide equitable access to a sport beloved by so many in our area.
“A day on the slopes at Holiday Valley is a time that means a lot to so many people in our area,” Buchheit said. “And without the Lounsbury Adaptive program, it would be an activity that many people would not be able to experience. Their work is so important.”
For Bredenberg, the reason program exists and continues is a simple one – it helps those with disabilities, and all the volunteers, himself included, have a ball doing it.
The Lounsbury Adaptive Agency Fund will ensure that the program can be a ball for program participants and volunteers alike for many more years to come.
Donations can be made to the Lounsbury Adaptive Agency Fund at 301 N. Union St., Suite 203, or online at cattfoundation.org.
Established in 1994, the Cattaraugus Region Community Foundation is growing good by connecting donors to the causes they care about most in the region. Grants from the foundation support many areas, including education, scholarships, health care, the arts, community development, human service, and youth development. To learn more, call (716) 301-CRCF (2723), email firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit online at www.cattfoundation.org. CRCF is also on Facebook (facebook.com/cattfoundation) and Twitter (@CattFoundation).