The letters GMVS and KBF have long been synonymous with one another, and on Saturday, September 12, 2020, it was no different.
With brisk fall temperatures and clear blue skies above, the student-athletes of Green Mountain Valley School (GMVS) took to the roads and the mountains to raise money for the Kelly Brush Foundation (KBF). Kelly Brush, an alumna of GMVS, established the KBF in 2006 after suffering a spinal cord injury in a ski racing accident while a sophomore at Middlebury College. Rather than let the injury stop her, Kelly embraced her new reality, making profound impacts on both ski racing safety and adaptive sports, while inspiring many at every turn. Today, Kelly and her husband are the President and Executive Director, respectively, of the Kelly Brush Foundation whose mission is “to inspire and empower people with spinal cord injuries to lead active and engaged lives.”
Look no further than the hundreds of cyclists on the roads last Saturday. Clearly, KBF is inspiring and empowering those with and without spinal cord injuries, and Kelly’s inspiration is the driving force behind the thousands of dollars raised each year during the Kelly Brush Ride. This year, on the 15th anniversary of the ride, the goals remained the same, but the event took on a new look. With COVID-19 forcing changes in much of what we do, this year’s ride went virtual and the students, coaches, teachers and staff of GMVS embraced the opportunity and raised over $50,000 for the Kelly Brush Foundation.
Members of the GMVS community chose from a variety of group options including: 12 & 20-mile mountain bike rides in the Valley, a 36-mile road bike adventure to Montpelier and back, or a 100-mile loop. Other community members established their own routes and challenges, all with the same goal in mind: do hard things, raise money for ski racing safety, and help empower those with spinal cord injuries through adaptive sports.
As Alpine Director, Steve Utter, put it: “Our students were asked to challenge themselves outside their comfort zones and do hard things. The seniors led by example, with a few getting on a bike for the first time and choosing to ride 100 miles. Every ride had some element of challenge that provided an opportunity for each of our students to push their limits for a very good cause.”
With the whole community invested in the event, it was an impressive performance by the GMVS Community, and a surprise visit from Kelly at the start of the 36-mile ride added to the day’s excitement and energy. Nearly 4,500 miles were logged covering over 300,000 vertical feet by the community as a whole, with one student choosing to climb the Appalachian Gap, an additional 1,700 vertical feet after completing the century ride. Saturday truly embodied the best of Green Mountain Valley School with students challenging themselves to help others and pushing their limits even when no one was looking. That is the essence of what the GMVS and KBF relationship is all about.