In Kelly’s Words – Reflecting on a Year of Change
If 2020 was a year to forget, 2021 was a year to remember for the Kelly Brush Foundation! When reflecting on the year that just was, I am struck by how much has changed since one year ago. I would venture to say that this year has had more changes than ever before since our founding in 2006.
One of the biggest changes we had in 2021 was in our staffing. Edie started with us as the new executive director in January. She started working remotely from LA and then moved to Vermont in June. We’re hopeful she’ll stick around after experiencing a full Vermont winter (though she’s a Massachusetts native so she thinks she knows what she’s getting into)! We also had Colleen, Bruce, and Jessica all start with the KBF in 2021. Each one of these team members brings lot of knowledge and incredible energy. I couldn’t be more excited about our team and what they have accomplished over the last year!
Personally, my role has changed over the last year as well. With Edie joining and Zeke leaving, I took on more time and responsibility day-to-day to help Edie and the other new team members get up to speed, as well as help them to really understand the history of KBF and my vision for our future. Now that the team has settled in, I’m stepping back into my pre-transition role: helping to set strategies and goals as well as being the face of the organization. I’ll also take an even greater role on the KBF Board of Directors to be able to steer from a more strategic place. My confidence in KBF’s future could not be higher, which is a reflection of our great team, our incredible board, and the enthusiasm of all of our supporters. Thank you, to everyone out there, for making this feel easy!
The other big changes in 2021 came in our programming. In February we launched the Active Project in a beta form. This web-based platform is a place for people with SCI to share knowledge, build community, and create opportunities around a shared passion for being active. We launched this product in beta and have since learned a lot about how it can be used and the potential benefits for those with an SCI. We are excited to dive into this even more in the next several months to make updates and changes that will make it market ready.
Candid shot after conquering a climb at our first mountain bike camp.
We also held our first ever KBF camp. We hosted a mountain bike camp in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont with 11 adaptive riders with people from as far away as Alaska and Oregon. It was a great opportunity to learn more about mountain biking but also to share knowledge about living with an SCI. Check out this video about the camp. We all had so much fun, and the impact on the campers was so great, we are hoping to do even more of these in 2022.
In March 2021 we held a virtual fundraiser called KBF Live: Northeast (you can watch a recording of this event here). This was to replace our fundraising events in Boston, New York, and Vermont. We had no idea what to expect, but we were blown away by the energy we felt during the event and the support we received. While we’re excited to go back to in-person events this year (watch for save-the-dates for Boston on March 23rd and New York in May) we are hoping to keep the virtual model in some way.
So with all of these changes, what didn’t change? First and foremost, the Active Fund, our grant program to help people with SCI purchase adaptive sporting equipment, was more successful than ever. With our spring and fall cycles we gave away $815,000 to 255 individuals. We also continued our ski racing safety mission, giving away $81,000 in safety grants and continuing our free “Stop the bleed” kits and virtual trainings. We continued our advocacy for safety in ski racing through multiple educational and marketing channels. And last, but definitely not least, we held the Kelly Brush Ride in-person again at Middlebury College. We had over 900 riders and raised over $875,000 to support our mission. The Kelly Brush Ride, the Active Fund, and (at least in the ski racing world) our ski racing mission are what we’re most known for, and I couldn’t be prouder that they continue to flourish.
From the 2021 Kelly Brush Ride.
It is always fun to look back on the year that was to recognize all that we have accomplished and all that has changed. I could not be prouder of what the KBF team and our supporters have done for the SCI community in what was otherwise a challenging year (thanks a lot COVID!). Now I’m excited to see where 2022 brings us!