PERU — The Bart Adaptive Sports Center provided 16 disabled veterans and their families the chance to ski and snowboard down Bromley Mountain over the weekend as part of the organization's 18th Wounded Military Heroes Weekend.
The weekend was made possible thanks to the dozens of volunteer instructors by the veterans’ side, accommodating to their specific needs or simply there to provide a lesson for newcomers. The annual event has become a date many veterans circle on their calendar to attend, while others like John Mangan were giving it a go for the first time.
Mangan – who split his 25 years of service between the U.S. Navy and Army – was afforded the opportunity to ski for the first time in more than a decade thanks to Bart. Knee and back injuries forced the Virginia resident to put down his skis in 2013. He, and his wife, finally picked them back up on Saturday.
“I cannot speak highly enough of [Bart Program Manager] Betsy Hurley and the center,” Mangan said. “The instructors have taken the time to get both me and my wife back on the mountain after years of not being on the mountain. Their time, patience, ability to work with me, work with my disabilities and get us down is outstanding.”
Hurley expressed her gratitude toward Bromley Mountain, who has worked in conjunction with Bart to give back to those that served.
Mangan appreciated the consideration Bart took to incorporate family members as part of the experience.
“This opportunity was great because they invited my spouse and gave her a great weekend and honored her, as well,” he explained. “For the sacrifices of the family members.”
Many took advantage of the two days of skiing, and are looking forward to returning to Bromley next January.
The Bart Center is a non-profit organization providing individuals with disabilities the opportunity to enjoy skiing, snowboarding and other outdoor sports at Bromley and Stratton Mountains and various locations in southern Vermont, according to its Facebook page.
It’s namesake, Bart J. Ruggiere, was a beloved skier who frequented Bromley Mountain. Ruggiere was killed in the World Trade Center attacks on 9/11.
Hurley – who has spina bifida – was the inspiration behind the creation of the adaptive center. She won a bronze medal during the 2001 Special Olympics Winter Games competing in alpine skiing.
The center was created in 2002 in Ruggiere’s honor. For more information about the organization, visit bartadaptive.org.