In 2006, Charlotte, Vt.’s Kelly Bush was racing for Middlebury College when she caught an edge and spun into a lift tower stanchion. She severely damaged her spinal cord, fractured a vertebra in her neck, and her lung collapsed. After a 10-hour surgery, two weeks in the hospital and two and a half months of rehabilitation, she faced a new reality: life in a wheelchair. But Brush was determined to continue skiing. At Middlebury, she began carving turns with a monoski.
The year of her fall, the Middlebury Ski Team raised money for Brush during what is now the annual Kelly Brush Ride: a 100-mile bike ride through Addison County. The ride has grown to be one of Vermont’s largest fundraisers. “In 2006, the ride was 100 percent of what we did,” said Zeke Davisson, Kelly’s husband and the Foundations executive director. “In 2017, it was 800 plus riders, we raised $550,000, and that was only about half of what we will do this year.” Now, Kelly, a pediatric nurse practitioner in Burlington, regularly skis with her family (her mother was an Olympic racer) and husband and her daughter Dylan.
The Kelly Brush Foundation now has two causes. It works to make the racing slopes safer—this year, it even committed $40,000 to improving safety on the Audi FIS World Cup course in Killington. But first and foremost, the organization aims to get people with disabilities, like Kelly, out there. “We’ve given grants in 47 states on the adaptive sports side,” Davisson says. “We’re not just trying to help people buy equipment, we’re also trying to inspire people with spinal cord injuries, to let them know that it’s possible to be active and get that part of their life back.”
Get Involved With Kelly Brush
Donate at kellybrushfoundation.org, volunteer at next year’s Kelly Brush Ride (held in September), or attend the foundation’s annual, local fundraising event: Inspire!Vermont, held in May, which Davisson calls “more fun than a cocktail party.”
Click on one of the following links to read more about the organizations in Vermont that get disadvantaged skiers and rider on the mountain. Or, click here to read about the impact one organization had on a participant.