Below is some of the feedback we have received from participants and their families about our program.
I had the great honor of getting to snowboard at the Bart center for a week a few years ago. After the loss of most of my right leg, just above the knee due to an enemy fired RPG in Iraq in 2003, one of my first thoughts was that I would not be able to snowboard any more. But within a few months I was back at the top of the hill knowing only that I was going to get to the bottom one way or another. Along the way I met the people from the Bart Center. They invited me to come to their mountain for some world class instruction and a week of fun and great food with other disabled athletes. Not only was it an amazing week in some beautiful country, but they gave me tools that I would use to further my career as a snowboarder. I have since taken those tools to the top of many mountains; to the top of many race courses, to the top of super pipes and terrain parks all around the world. I even completed my childhood dream of racing in the winter X Games.
I have had a lot of help in my life. But when I encounter people and places like the Bart Center and the people who make it happen I am left in Awe. Someday I'm going to have to pay all of this help forward and I'm not going to know where to start. To everyone involved with the Bart Center I’d like to say, "thank you, from the bottom of my heart, thank you” Id like to give you all a hug and tell you about all of the success that your program has allowed me. How you helped me pick up the pieces of my shattered life and build something that was far better than what I started with.
Keep up the good work guys, you are changing lives. ;-)
Our thanks goes to all who organize the Bart Center's activities. As a mother of a special needs child, I am always searching for activities that include my entire family yet be sensitive to the needs of my child with a disability. My two children enjoyed kayaking, hiking, picnicking and just general playtime in the great outdoors. It was comforting and relaxing to be a part of a community that is so open and understanding to each of my children. Thank you for offering a program that is family centered. We are looking forward to the Ski Program.
~ Rebecca V., Parent
When our developmental pediatrician urged us to enroll our 3 year old non verbal autistic boy in The Bart Center for skiing lessons, I fully expected to get sent home for the season after our first appearance. Our son was of the snow, he refused to keep the skis on or to walk in ski boots and plucked at his helmet when he was not sobbing. The only things he seemed to be remotely interested in were the presence of other kids and the mechanics of the magic carpet, where we stood frozen while sobbing and observing everything for the remainder of the session. To my surprise, our instructor, Betsy, thought that was enough to build on and wanted him back the following week.
Betsy could read him like a book and lesson after lesson seemed to know what was making him upset even before I did, so we would have a snack or add a layer of clothes or adjust the boots rather than forcing our way. The crying diminished and was gradually replaced by smiles, sometimes even on a day with tough conditions. He would always leave with a huge sense of accomplishment, bursting with pride and squeezing with delight all the way home and if he could speak his vocalizations were surely about how he shredded the mountain.
Our son went from being afraid of snow to making wide turns toward an instructor in just one season. It was easy to see what learning to ski was doing for him. For once he was able to participate with peers on roughly the same level as they were instead of falling into his usual coexistence on the sidelines of life. The Bart Center has an incredible vision and in our son's case, is accomplishing such a beautiful thing as allowing a child to feel a sense of belonging in a nurturing and kind environment. We are not a family of skiers but this experience has given us incentive to look forward to the winter and yes, hopefully take to the lifts together.
~ Birte K., Parent
My 12 year old autistic son Ryan is not a fan of any sport or pretty much any outside activity. However, since we are a family of skiers, we thought we should have him try skiing. Our hope was that one day we could all ski together. We chose the Bart Center because we like the family friendly atmosphere at Bromley Mountain.
This past winter was our 3rd year with the Bart Center. I'm thrilled to say Ryan is doing fantastic! Not only is he learning to ski, he is enjoying it! Whenever we come up to Vermont, Ryan will wake up in the morning and start putting on his ski clothes, even if we’re not skiing that day!
I think the staff at The Bart Center is a huge part of Ryan's success with skiing and overall happiness with the sport. All of the instructors are so kind and patient. You can tell that they really want to be there. They really want to help.
Ryan is very lucky to have the opportunity to ski with The Bart Center. I'm thrilled with his progress. I know he can't wait till next winter when he can ski again!
~ Rebecca P., Parent
I started going to the Bart Center three years ago. I really like it there because everybody is so friendly and awesome! When I started skiing I was pretty bad. Now I am so good that I was asked to go on the ski team! All because of The Bart Center and their great instructors.
When I was having trouble with my ski boots, Betsy listened to me and told me how to fix the problem. Now I have ski boots that fit and are comfortable.
The instructors got me moving more and taught me that I can ski for a whole day with just a little break. I also got asked to shadow teaching the younger skiers and I did and I thought it was really fun! I learned to have patience and what it’s like to be one of the instructors. I think I may want to be an instructor in the future. I am glad my mom signed me up to go to the Bart Center!
~ Ruthie G., Participant
Charlotte has been skiing at the Bart Center for the past three winters. Now 7 years old, she was born with a rare condition called Möebius Syndrome. Among Charlotte’s challenges are partially paralyzed facial muscles, low overall muscle tone, and bilateral club feet. Her facial paralysis limits her facial expressions and creates complications when eating and speaking. The low muscle tone and foot issues have presented challenges to her physical activity. She has worked hard in various therapies since she was very young to build her strength and communication skills. Outside of skiing, Charlotte loves to surf, swim, read, play soccer, bike, and play with her two older sisters.
5 weeks ago, I met the great men and women that give life to the BART Adaptive Sports Center. Meeting them has changed my life and most importantly has given me back what had been taken from me and I thought I had lost forever. Thanks to the men and women of Bart I feel strong, confident and I am filled with pride.
My son Erik (9) is on the autism spectrum and has low muscle tone. He is more of an indoor person and has been timid about most sports. Since some of my own happiest childhood memories were from our family’s ski vacations, my wish was for Erik to try out skiing and like it enough that we could spend time on the slopes together some day.
We are so grateful to have the Bart Adaptive Sports Center in our lives. Our son has been skiing with Bart for two years and we could have never imagined the benefits that the experience would have provided outside of skiing. He has become more mature, independent, confident, and secure with navigating unfamiliar obstacles, while at the same time becoming a safe and more accomplished skier. The relationships he has gained with the Bart staff and instructors are immeasurable and will be long lasting. The Bart center is his second home on the mountain and he looks forward to each and every weekend for his interactions with the staff. Our son is just as happy skiing down his favorite trail at Bromley, Pushover, as he is in engaging with the BART administrators over a hot cocoa. Bart Center has helped create a safe environment both on and off the mountain, which in turn has helped him evolve into a more rounded individual. We look forward to engaging with the Bart Adaptive Sports Center at Bromley this winter and for many years to come!!
Bromley Mountain has always been a huge part of my life. Being a December baby, some of my very first months were actually spent in the Bromley daycare center while my parents were out skiing. I learned how to ski in Bromley’s “Mighty Moose” program, and spent 9 years of my life in their JETS training program fine-tuning my skills while making unforgettable memories with instructors and friends. I have spent countless afternoons listening to lively bands perform in the Wild Boar and sledding down some of the smaller hills with friends. I have had so many great experiences at Bromley, but I can say with certainty that my most meaningful experiences have been with the Bart Center.
I started volunteering with the Bart Center two years ago, during my sophomore year of high school, and to say I was nervous would be quite the understatement. I had always admired the dedication and strength of the Bart Center volunteers and how they did such great work with students while also fostering a fun learning environment, and wanted to live up to those standards. I spent the majority of my first year assisting other instructors, but during February break of that same year I got to lead my first lesson. It was truly one of the most worthwhile experiences I have ever had. After that week I knew that I wanted to continue to volunteer with the Bart Center for as long as possible.
Though there are many highlights from my time with the Bart Center, the students are by far the best part about the program. Their willingness to push beyond their comfort zones and accomplish new things each day never fails to inspire me. I can say with certainty that some of my favorite memories at Bromley have been on the Magic Carpet with my students, from making animal noises together on the ride up the carpet to watching a student complete a full turn on their own.
The Bart Center is such an amazing program to be part of. I feel an immense rush of pride and humility everytime I put on that red jacket. Although I am definitely on the younger side of the staff, I have never felt out of place with my co-instructors and have made many meaningful friendships and connections. I look forward to many more seasons with the Bart Center!
~ Katy M., Volunteer
As I move forward in the recovery from wounds both seen and unseen a quote I heard from another veteran speaks to my heart now more than ever. Someone had said to him, “thank you for your service.” He replied, “thank you but please thank me for my sacrifice.” I never fully appreciated that until more recently. It does not escape me that I still sacrifice and I am not the only one. My loved ones have sacrificed and continue to sacrifice by my side as I continue my journey.
My name is Justin Nash and served as an Infantry Officer in the 10th Mountain Division from 2001 - 2005. I was wounded in Afghanistan in 2004 and was unable to continue my service which led to a significant negative spiral after I moved away from base. I no longer had the comradery, the sense of purpose, nor the physical activity. I have had the great fortune to be connected with the Bart Center and am one of their Wounded Military Heroes. I cannot express how the Bart Center and The Wounded Military Heroes weekend has changed my life. This event provides a welcome retreat for me to celebrate with my daughters. 2 of my daughters have now joined me, learned to ski, and have learned about a part of my life that they know little about. This weekend provides much needed escape from the day to day grind and an ability to truly focus on my girls. It is the happiest week of the year for me. I love the Bart Center and all that contribute to it!
The Bart Center’s “Wounded Military Heroes Weekend” provides veterans with varied levels of disability an unparalleled opportunity to connect with their comrades while enjoying an incredible weekend of skiing in one of New England’s most serene locations. The extraordinary dedication of the staff combines with the unprecedented outreach of an entire community to create an experience no veteran should miss.
I’ve had the honor of attending the past two events and would like to extend my deepest gratitude to the Ruggiere family for their loving and philanthropic creation of the Bart J. Ruggiere Adaptive Sports, to the insight and generosity of the purveyors of Bromley Mountain for providing the perfect facility and backdrop for this impactful retreat and lastly, but with no less conviction, to the men and women who volunteer their time to recognize the needs of and to help my brothers and sisters adjust to a new world that most cannot comprehend….you too are heroes and a true inspiration to veterans everywhere !
Brig Gen (ret) Christopher M. Faux