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!

2017 Ski Racing Safety Grants Announced!

 

18 Clubs  |  13 States  |  4,000 Racers  |  $75,000

The Kelly Brush Foundation is excited to announce that we have awarded $75,000 to 18 clubs in 13 states directly affecting more than 4,000 racers to improve safety on their racing and training venues. If you race, train, or visit any of the areas listed below, know that you or a racer you know will be safer because of the program’s commitment to safety and our financial support in helping them reach their safety goals.

Over the last several years the quality of grant applications has increased dramatically. We’re excited at the progress the sport and its many stakeholders have made since Kelly’s injury in 2006, and relieved at the countless injuries prevented because of a greater awareness of safety.

For more information about our Ski Racing Safety Grant Program, click here >

 

Safety Award Recipients:

East:

  • Cochran Ski Area – Vermont
  • Mt. Mansfield Ski Education Foundation – Vermont
  • Friends of Mt. Abram – Maine
  • Waterville Valley BBTS – New Hampshire
  • Belleayre Mountain Racing Association – New York
  • Bristol Mountain Race Club – New York
  • NYSEF – New York
  • West Mountain School – New York
  • Tussey Mountain Alpine Racing Team – Pennsylvania
  • Timberline Race Team – Virginia

Rocky/Central:

  • Granite Peak Ski Team – Wisconsin
  • LaCrosse Area Youth Ski Association – Wisconsin
  • Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club – Colorado

Western:

  • Black Hills Ski Team – South Dakota
  • Jackson Hole Ski and Snowboard Club – Wyoming
  • Meadows Race Team – Oregon
  • Sugar Bowl Ski Team and Academy – California
  • Teton Valley Ski Education Foundation – Idaho

In Kelly’s Words – Getting Offroad!

 

For someone in a wheelchair there is nothing more liberating than getting off the pavement and into the woods, fields, or mountains.

 

About a week ago I got an offroad handcycle, the equivalent of a mountain bike. These machines have become a lot more popular in the last 5 or so years. What was once something that people would just weld themselves in their garage has turned into a pretty hot market. At the KBF we have been getting more and more requests for funding for these bikes because they are both really expensive ($7,500 as a base price) and really fun!

 

For me, there are 2 reasons that this has been an incredible new experience. First, it allows me to get off the pavement. Sure I’m really active with road handcycling and play tennis sometimes, but these are on solid surfaces. Even golf is on a manicured surface (not exactly nature!). This is a sentiment we get from a lot of applicants to our Adaptive Sports Equipment Grant program (see a new KBF blog here about Anna, a girl about my age in the Pacific Northwest who just took delivery of her new offroad handcycle!). It’s about identity, freedom, nature. Everything we think of when we say we want to “get outside” (more on this below).

 

Second, getting this bike has allowed me to reflect on and appreciative what my Middlebury Ski Team teammates did for me right after my injury back in 2006. The very first Kelly Brush Ride was planned by my teammates on the Middlebury Ski Team to raise money so I could buy a monoski and get back on the hill with them. With a goal of around $10,000, they ended up raising over $60,000! I’ve continued to be able to use that money over the last 11+ years to buy adaptive sports equipment. We just used the last $8,000 to buy this offroad handcycle. When I read grant applications for the KBF a common sentiment is that people want to get back to doing what they love, exploring the world actively, and being an athlete. I feel like the Middlebury Ski Team made all of this possible for me because I’ve had the ability to participate in so many adaptive activities. I forever feel indebted to the people who raised money for me that year. That’s what we at the KBF try to do for anyone else with a spinal cord injury.

 

But back to my experiences getting out on the handcycle these last couple of weeks:

 

For my second ride on the new whip this past weekend I went to Snake Mountain here in Vermont. This is a mountain that we used to hike when I was in college but (obviously) haven’t done in years. Zeke has hiked it a few times over the years and thought it would be a good place for the offroad handcycle. The trail is wide and without any technical rock sections that would be hard to navigate. What we didn’t account for was the mud. Mud, mud, mud. It has rained a TON in Vermont this summer. Which made it harder than we expected. Zeke helped (with Dylan on his back) and we made it to the top! It was so much fun and such an amazing adventure to be out in the woods! I can’t wait to see where we can explore.

 

The few times that I’ve been out on my bike Zeke has been hiking with Dylan in a backpack. I go about his speed uphill but obviously a lot faster downhill. It has been a great compromise so far though; I love that we are out in the woods with Dylan! Our dog, Lexi, has also been on these adventures, it’s been so fun to have the whole family out in the woods! I know I have a lot to learn (I’ve been told, and now understand, that there is a lot of technique to mountain biking), but I’m so excited about this new activity that I can share with my whole family!

Meet the #KBFamily – Anna from Oregon

 

“By far, more than anything else I may have lost with my injury, I miss the ability and the freedom to get out into the wilds under my own power the most.”

 

That line was from Anna Soens’ grant application to the KBF for a new off-road handcycle. When Anna applied in the fall of 2016, it was less than a year after she sustained an SCI while rock climbing in the Pacific Northwest just before Christmas in 2015. Active, in her late 20s, and with a career in wildlife research in the Nevada backcountry, her injury struck her livelihood and identity particularly hard.

In October of 2016, the KBF awarded her $2,500 to help her get her life, identity, and freedom back.

Her new offroad handcycle was delivered and assembled a few weeks ago, and she checked in last week with an update:

“Thank you so much for the grant that allowed me to add this awesome piece of equipment to my life. The arrival of this cycle has instantly opened up so much opportunity to me and I’m currently intoxicated by the newfound freedom. It’s so much more than just a bike to me and my head is spinning with all of the adventures I see for the future: easier access to crags for more climbing adventures, the freedom to “backpack” with my dog into Idaho’s vast wilderness, and lots of roadtrips around the country!”

Congratulations Anna and we couldn’t be more excited to have you as a member of the #KBFamily and are proud to be part of your story! Stay adventurous!

 

 

Some more pictures of her with her new offroad handcycle (and her dogs). Photo credit to her buddy John Chapman.

Announcing the POC 5×5 – Kelly Brush Ride

 

Kelly wearing her POC helmet at the start of the 2016 Kelly Brush Ride

We’re teaming up with the awesome people at POC again to give 15 Kelly Brush Riders the opportunity to win a POC helmet for themselves AND for a KBF Grant Recipient. That means POC is giving away 30 helmets to riders in the #KellyBrushRide and members of the #KBFamily this summer!

Here’s how it works:

  • The top 5 fundraisers (by number of donations received) for the Kelly Brush Ride in the last 5 days of each of June, July, and August win BOTH a helmet for themselves AND for a KBF Grant Recipient that received equipment in a sport that requires a helmet (handcycle, monoski, racing chair, etc.).

The contest dates are:

  • June 26 – 30
  • July 27 – 31
  • Aug. 27 – 31

To start fundraising, register here, get some fundraising tips here, and start fundraising! If you’re one of the 5 people that receive the most number of donations in those 5 days periods, we’ll email you!