Kelly Brush Ride – Recap

12th Annual Kelly Brush Ride powered by VBT Bicycling and Walking Vacations hits $500,000!


We are still blown away. With 810 riders raising $514,499, we had 100 more riders and raised almost $100,000 more than last year. The proceeds will be used immediately to help purchase adaptive sports equipment for people with spinal cord injuries and advocate for and improve safety equipment for alpine ski race programs.

Visit Kelly Brush Ride Site                    View Photo Gallery


Kelly Brush Ride by-the-numbers:

  • $514,499 – raised (and still growing!)
  • 810 – riders (including 25 handcyclists)
  • 82 – volunteers (at the Start/Finish, water stops, and supporting)
  • 268 – riders fundraised, receiving donations from 2600+ donors
  • 91 – riders earned KBF Patagonia backpack (for raising $750)
  • 43 – riders earned KBF Patagonia Nano Puff Hoody (for raising $1500)
  • $438 – proceeds of ice cream donated by The Scoop back to the KBF

Top Fundraisers and Prize Winners:

  • Top Teams – GMVS ($55,410) | Midd ’84 & Friends ($53,059) [UPDATED]
  • Top Fundraiser – Rick Makin ($13,257)
  • Top New Fundraiser – Heidi Witherell ($5,025)
  • VBT Raffle Winner – JB & Dana, Boston, MA
  • Fat Bike Raffle Winner – Fred Dieffenbach (winner of raffle of those that raised $2,500+ or received 25+ donations)
  • See the whole Scoreboard here >

Special thanks:

  • VBT Bicycling and Walking Vacations – Our title sponsor and great partner!
  • Middlebury College and the Middlebury Ski Team – Our gracious hosts!
  • Fundraisers – They go above and beyond to help us fulfill our mission.
  • Volunteers – The best make the best event!
  • Castleton University Ski Team – They drive an hour and a half and work from 6:30am to 6:00pm. We simply cannot thank this team enough!
  • EventSet – For providing the start/finish arch, bike racks, barriers, and photo backdrop.
  • The Scoop – For bringing the awesome ice cream truck!
  • All Our Sponsors Listed Below!


13th Kelly Brush Ride powered by VBT Bicycling and Walking Vacations

 September 8, 2018



In Kelly’s Words – A behind-the-scenes look at the Kelly Brush Ride


Have you ever thought about what it takes to put on an event like the Kelly Brush Ride? Since it has grown so organically over the last 12 years and I’ve lived it, I never thought about people’s interest in how we do what we do.


The other day I realized that one of our new staff members, Stephanie, has been doing the ride for years with her brother who has a spinal cord injury, but didn’t really know what it was like to plan the event. She’d never seen it from that side. So I thought it might be interesting to give everyone that perspective.


We have come a long way. Early on we had no idea how many people were coming, how much water we needed, what food we needed, etc. One year we ran out of water – a mistake we never made again! Today we have a pretty good formula that we’ve created over the years, trying to use every change or major decision to make it better. We track whether we’re improving or not by doing a post ride survey (which, if you rode, you can take here >). Hopefully we continue to get better every year!


I’ll walk you through the week leading up to the Kelly Brush Ride:


Monday is Labor Day, which we try to take off.


Tuesday and Wednesday are spent organizing boxes that will go to every water stop, filled with things like food, paper towels, Gatorade, etc., driving around and picking up banners from all of our sponsors, and making final pushes for fundraising, registration, and social media posts to promote the ride. I also typically go on a local radio show on the Wednesday morning before the Ride. I’ve built a pretty fun rapport with the hosts, so I’m much less nervous than I used to be!


On Thursday we load all of the vans. Each of the 5 water stops has a van that has everything the volunteers need so they can just show up, set up, and then pack back up. There are tents, tables, chairs, a wheelchair (for handcyclists to use the port-a-let when they are in their handcycle and their wheelchair is back at the start), trash cans, bike pumps, first aid supplies, etc.


Friday is when it starts to get fun. It starts with a coordinated caravan of volunteers (more on that in a second) to Middlebury dropping the vans at each water stop along the way so that they are there and ready for the volunteers to set up the water stops on Saturday. In Middlebury we meet the Middlebury College Ski Team at the start and they help us set up the entire start/finish area. With many hand it’s light work – I feel very grateful for their help. They also help us break down the start/finish area on Saturday evening.


Saturday (Ride day!) is always a whirlwind, but in the best way. We get there around 5:30-6am and leave around 6pm. I get to talk to so many people who are doing the Ride, both old friends and people I’m meeting for the first time. There are many people who I see there every year, some who have done it every year or nearly every year since the start. It’s great to be out there with other handcyclists. You get to compare notes, see other equipment, and I get to learn from some incredible athletes. The ski world is very well represented between ski academies, people from US Ski and Snowboard, masters racers, and ex-racers from many different era’s (my era of skiing probably being the most represented) – it is so much fun to see so many friends in the same place! But by the time Saturday night rolls around, I’m exhausted!


But every year when I’m sitting at home feeling completely exhausted I also feel incredibly energized about what we have accomplished and how many people feel what we are doing is important. It always inspires me do it again next year and to find more ways to make the ride even better.


As for the volunteers I mentioned. We really couldn’t even come close to pulling this off without the 80+ volunteers who help make it happen. But I want to take a second to specifically thank the incredible people at Summit Property Management in South Burlington. Summit is a family business in so many ways. My father, sister, and brother-in-law all work there. When the KBF started, we were run out of their office, and all the employees have become an extended family. They are there helping on each day of my timeline above (and have been for 12 years!), doing both fun and tedious tasks. They truly make this event happen, and we couldn’t be more grateful. Thanks guys!


With another Kelly Brush Ride in the books, we can finally exhale. It’s our job in the next few weeks to make sure everyone involved knows how appreciative and grateful we are for the donations, time, commitments, and energy they’ve put into the Ride. And if that includes you, let me be the first (or second) to say THANK YOU!


Dylan Update:


Dylan’s words continue to explode. It seems like she has new words every day or at least things that she is trying to say. I can tell, though, that she has started to have more desires and opinions and her words just aren’t there yet to express them so she’s getting more frustrated. She’s become a bit more whiney because of this which is kind of frustrating for Zeke and me. I know I just need to keep in mind how much more frustrating it is for Dylan!


She also started a new daycare a couple weeks ago. We liked our old daycare but had some reasons we wanted to switch. I was amazed at how sad I was to be leaving her original daycare and the providers who love her so much there. She also is now crying every time I drop her off which is sad for me, though I know this is a phase and she probably would have done it around this age no matter where she goes. I think we are going to be happy with our new daycare though, fingers crossed!

Why We Ask You to Fundraise for the Kelly Brush Ride


Rider fundraising is what allows us to make inspiring stories happen. Period.


More accurately, you are making these stories happen. It’s what allows people with paralysis to achieve active lifestyles. It’s what keeps thousands of ski racers around the country safe.

We don’t have fundraising minimums, which is somewhat unique for an event of this size. Other large regional charity events, like the Boston Marathon, Pan Mass Challenge, or The Prouty, all have fundraising minimums. Instead, we see it as our job at the KBF to inspire people to fundraise, either with stories of impact, with fundraising incentive prizes, or by catering to your competitive spirit.

Traditionally about 30% of our riders fundraise, which accounts for 65% of the proceeds of the Kelly Brush Ride. We work 12 months a year to court sponsors, sell jerseys and raffle tickets, and get people to register for the ride. But our riders are TWICE as effective as we are!


My goal is to get 50% of riders fundraising in 2017. This is ambitious, but so is our $500,000 goal. I need your help!

We cannot keep up with the growing demand for our program services. While we’re growing revenue 30+% each year, demand is doubling. In fact, we were able to fund less than half of the requests made to us in 2016 (and we funded double what we did the year before!). It feels better to say YES than to say NO. Please help us do that!

We are aware that a $150 registration fee is no small ask, and $100 of that fee goes to our mission. But the average fundraiser raises more than $700, and we find that if someone is able to register $50, they’re probably going to raise much more.

If you’re new to this or looking for a way to get started, please watch the quick tutorial I put together on how to share your fundraising page. Then share broadly!

2 Easy Ways to Get Started:

Log In

Here are a few stats to keep in mind:

  • 4 – The average number of contacts (emails, social media views, calls, etc) before someone gives. So don’t get discouraged.
  • 50% – of all fundraising happens in the last week. Urgency works!
  • 100% – The amount of your fundraising that will go directly to help our grant recipients THIS FALL!

Meet the #KBFamily – Matt from Wisconsin


“I can’t thank the Kelly Brush Foundation enough for helping me get this handcycle. It is such a smooth, fluid ride that I feel the urge to ride it whenever I think and talk about it.”

Meet Matt from Wisconsin, a Spring 2017 grant recipient of a new handcycle. After sustaining a spinal cord injury in a motorcycle accident in 1999, his friends and family fundraised to buy him an entry-level handcycle. He’s been riding that over 15 years! He applied for a new handcycle so he could find that love of cycling again.

In April of 2017, the KBF awarded him $1,500 to help him get back out there.


He’s had the handcycle all summer now, and checked in this week:

“I received my Top End Force 3 hand cycle and LOVE it! I have been riding more lately and am getting more used to it and finding the right fit. I’m riding 3-4 times per week and hope to ride much more as I get in better shape. ; ) I can’t thank you and your organization enough for helping me get this hand cycle. It is such a smooth, fluid ride that I feel the urge to ride it whenever I think and talk about it. Thank you so much again for helping me get this bike and allowing me be apart of such a great organization that does so much to help people improve their quality of life! ”

Congratulations Matt. Thank you for being part of the #KBFamily and stay smooth out there!


In Kelly’s Words – Camping… in a chair… with a kid…


I went camping this weekend! The whole crew got out there: Zeke, Dylan, and I (and our dog Lexi), with my sister Lindsay, her husband Tom, and their two boys Griffin and Sully.


Growing up in Vermont, camping was a regular summer activity that I have really fond memories of. I remember going to a small island in Lake Champlain as a kid, sleeping in the lean-to, and enjoying all of the classic camping clichés: campfires, s’mores, swimming, waking up to a raccoon in our lean-to because we left our trash out.


Let’s just say the mechanics of camping are a bit tougher in a wheelchair. But these are all great memories that I want Dylan to have! We have talked about trying to figure out how to camp for a few years and this year Zeke and I were determined to make it happened.


For someone in a wheelchair camping presents several issues. One ever-present consideration for someone with a spinal cord injury is potential skin issues. For most people camping means sleeping on a thin pad and the discomfort that comes with it. That’s part of the charm. But someone with an SCI can’t feel that discomfort, which can lead to pressure sores. We bought a big blow up mattress that we could blow up with an electronic pump from our car (yes, we’re talking car-camping…). This may not seem like “real” camping, but protecting my skin is so important and this works. We bought a big 6-person tent so we have our big air mattress but also have enough room for a travel crib for Dylan (and the dog bed). Dylan and Lexi were obviously going to come with us and having enough space for the whole family was huge.


Another challenge is having a bathroom that I can use. I can always go in the woods but that just presents some more challenges for someone in a wheelchair. The campsite we picked has an accessible restroom on the grounds so I could go use that. The bathroom even has a shower with a bench in it if I wanted to use that. Glamping!


We also wanted to find fun stuff to do during the day. The campsite was located right on a rail path that a lot of people bike. We brought my offroad handcycle, Zeke’s mountain bike, and the trailer for Dylan so we all could go. Sorry we didn’t get a picture! We were a pretty tough looking crew! We also went swimming in the little lake and canoeing around.


Maybe the biggest challenge was (as it often is) mobility. At one point during the weekend Dylan was climbing up into a folding chair and I knew exactly what was going to happen next. Call it a mother’s instinct. Zeke was doing something else and I watched in slow motion as Dylan climbed up into the chair, stood up, leaned over the back, and proceeded to faceplant on the hard ground. Tears, blood, and snot were the result, mostly hers but a bit of mine too. I get it, we can’t protect our kids from every mishap, but this was one I saw happening and I just couldn’t get to her quickly like I would have been able to if I wasn’t in a chair. It was definitely a frustrating moment for me and a realization that as she gets more mobile and agile I’m going to have to find new ways to make sure I can keep her safe. Within a few minutes of the fall she had moved on and was laughing. We’ll have a tough kid!


We only went for one night and even though it was pretty luxurious (with nice bathrooms close by, the car with us, and a giant air mattress) it was still camping! We made it work and I would do it again for sure!


Dylan Update:


We have a walker! Despite Zeke joking that I’m a bad role model for Dylan (which get’s a mixed response…), she is now walking all over the place! She still crawls sometimes but now uses walking as her primary mode of transport. She has also started talking a lot more. She says mama, dada, hi, bye bye, night night, ball, dog, eat, all done, and probably some more that I can’t think of. It’s been amazing to watch her words exploding! She is following direction more and obviously understanding a lot of what we are saying. She has definitely started to have times when she gets frustrated because she wants something and she can’t say what. I like to think we’ve been pretty good at figuring out what she needs or else we can distract her away from it pretty well! She is incredibly interactive and loves to be goofy with people or wave to random strangers as they walk by. It feels like she is at a time of huge developmental gains but maybe this is going to be our new normal. Either way I’m enjoying this time!