Empowering people of all abilities through high quality outdoor experiences
AWeSOMe! History, Mission, Philosophy & Methodology, Programs, Services and Management Structure
- Adaptive Wilderness Sports of McCall (AWeSOMe!), began as the vision of physical therapist, Ingrid Burica, and occupational therapist, Kirsten Evenson, in January, 2002 after receiving some used adaptive ski equipment as a donation from Recreation Unlimited of Boise at Bogus Basin Mountain Recreation Area. The program was run at the Little Ski Hill during the first four years, in conjunction with the After-School Ski Program, allowing students with disabilities to ski along side their non-disabled peers. AWeSOMe! was then under the umbrella of the Little Ski Hill’s non-profit status. In the second year, Mary Naylor, then Brundage Mountain Resort’s Director of Marketing, offered to write a grant, which was procured from the University of Idaho’s Assistive Technology Department to purchase some new adaptive ski equipment. The program then moved to Brundage Mountain Resort to take advantage of the beginner chairlift and more diverse terrain. Moving the program to Brundage provided the opportunity to include adults with disabilities. AWeSOMe! now receives generous support from Brundage Mountain through provision of in-kind lift tickets for students and instructors. As the program grew, Brundage increased their support by donating the use of an A-frame hut, at the top of the Easy Street beginner area, for AWeSOMe!’s base of operations. In addition, Brundage provides ski rentals for AWeSOMe! students requiring stand-up ski equipment. The relationship with the Brundage Ski School has grown to include some shared instructor training.
- Chris Wernert became program director in the 2004-2005 ski season. Chris initiated snowshoeing and cross-country skiing at Ponderosa State Park and added summer activities, including canoeing, adaptive bicycling, tree-climbing workshops, and also day & overnight activity camps. Chris Wernert left in 2010 to pursue work opportunities, so the focus has returned entirely to the winter ski program.
- In 2009, AWeSOMe! applied and became a member of Disabled Sports USA. As a Subordinate Unit, AWeSOMe! is recognized as a tax-exempt nonprofit organization under DS/USA’s IRS 501 (c) (3) Group Tax Exempt status. Liability insurance is purchased through this program.
- The AWeSOMe! program continues to be an all-volunteer organization. Funding is received through grants, donations, modest activity registration fees, and fundraising events.
Mission Statement: to empower people of all abilities through high quality outdoor experiences
The purpose of this organization is to improve the quality of life for persons with disabilities through sports and recreational activities. Our vision is to continue to grow the program to be self-sustaining with sufficient volunteer staff and Board of Directors (BOD) to provide excellent recreational opportunities to participants at affordable prices with adequate funds to maintain a fleet of up-to-date adaptive ski equipment and support program operations.
Philosophy & Methodology
- Commitment to enhancing quality of life, through high-caliber outdoor experiences, for individuals and families whose lives are affected by disability. Many participants in the adaptive ski program progress their skills through AWeSOMe! to the point that they can enjoy skiing with their family and friends, independently of the program. Outdoor recreation promotes physical activity and conditioning as well as emotional well being, positively impacting the overall health of participants.
- Providing participants and volunteers opportunities to learn new skills, challenge themselves, and work together to enhance the health and self-confidence necessary to expand human potential.
- Inclusiveness: Participation in the adaptive ski school is open to anyone with a disability interested in learning to ski, who wouldn’t fit into a traditional ski or snowboard class, and is medically stable. This includes individuals with a permanent physical or learning disability who needs adaptive equipment and/or one-on-one instruction. In addition, the program facilitates participation by students with disabilities in local school sponsored ski and snowboard activities.
- A community service offering adaptive ski lesson to local children with disabilities, regardless of ability to pay.
- Integration: The adaptive ski school aims to teach skiing as a lifetime leisure skill and prepare individuals to ski as independently as possible. Adaptive skiing helps put individuals with disabilities on par with their non-disabled counterparts, allowing side-by-side participation in a popular winter McCall pastime.
- Disability awareness: Integration of people with disabilities through recreation also helps educate the non-disabled population about people with disabilities and their capabilities, making it easier to weave them into the fabric of society in general. The volunteer experience enhances disability awareness and personal growth.
- Volunteers Marnie and Chip Sell reinstated our summer program in 2014. They developed an adaptive kayaking program.
- Adaptive ski lessons and volunteer opportunities are the current services provided. There is potential to expand services. Some anticipated needs are a ski buddy program for people requiring assistance on the hill while not in lessons and to re-initiate summer programs.
AWeSOMe! has hosted veterans from the Boise VA for the past three years.
Board of Directors (BOD)
The current board of directors consists of seven volunteers:
President: Ingrid Burica
Vice President Roger Gossi
Secretary: Dan Gallagher
Treasurer: Dennis Keith
Members: Pat Dougherty, Char Quade and Marnie-Anne Sell
Staff and Volunteer Roles
Winter Coordinator is a new, grant funded position for 100 hours during 2013-14: Jill Marolf
Summer Coordinator: tba
Grant Writer: Leslie Freeman procures and administers grants. She was also volunteer event coordinator for the Warfighter Sports Camp in 2014.
All others are currently volunteer positions:
Program Director: Ingrid Burica
Lead Instructors: Ed Woods (stand-up skiing), Steve Rodosh (sit skiing)
Brundage Instructors who also teach as volunteers with AWeSOMe!: Bonnie Goold, Rich Koppenhafer, Ralph Hawes.