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Adaptive Sports Center looks toward future with new building

Aims to break ground on construction this spring

By Aimee Eaton

The Adaptive Sports Center (ASC) is going big this summer, really big. After more than 30 years of helping individuals with disabilities explore, enjoy and conquer outdoor activities, the ASC is building a permanent home from which to showcase its winter and on-mountain programs.

The home, which will be located at the Crested Butte Mountain Resort base area, will be a 20,000-square-foot, three-story facility built where the Outpost Building currently stands. It is scheduled to be finished in 2018.

“We’ve grown significantly since we started in 1987,” said ASC’s marketing manager, Brian Barker. “In that time we’ve run operations out of several different locations, none of which were optimal for our needs. Currently, winter programs are run out of the basement of the Treasury Center, and we’ve maxed out the space with lockers, gear storage, our administrative center and the fitting area. At this point we’re having to turn people and groups away.”

The decision to move forward with purchasing land and building a facility specifically tailored to the needs of the ASC and the people it serves came directly from wanting to increase access to outdoor activities and Adaptive’s programming, said ASC executive director Chris Hensley.

“Building this new facility addresses three issues: First, it will make our client experience that much better. There will be ski-in, ski-out accessibility which means more time on snow. There will be a therapeutic room, and a more streamlined area for getting participants geared up and out the door. Also, right now we’re tucked away in the basement. Having to go down there is not necessarily the experience we want to give people. The new building will be front and center in the base area.

“Second, we’ve hit the wall in terms of how many people we can serve. We’re completely booked for the rest of this winter and summer, and are about 80 percent booked for next winter. The new facility will allow us to serve more people. In the long term we see being able to double the amount of people we serve,” Hensley said.

According to Hensley, the third issue the new building addresses is providing a sense of sustainability and security for the organization. “Right now we’re in a five-year lease for our space at the Treasury Center, but you never know what will happen. Owning our own building goes a long way to guaranteeing that we will always have an adequate space from which to operate.”

The people and dollars behind the decision

In order to build the new facility, the ASC needs to raise $10 million. A year into the fundraising effort, Hensley said they’ve already raised more than $6 million, and once they reach $7.5 million they’ll break ground on construction.

“The Outpost Building has already been purchased,” he said. “We have another million to raise before spring, and we’re optimistic that we’ll get there. People have seen the value of what we do and have bought in to creating a permanent home so we can continue offering our programs.”

The fundraising for the new building was jumpstarted by a gift from the William Wright Family Foundation. W. Dan Wright is a member of the ASC’s board of directors, and his daughter, Kelsey, took part in ASC programming for more than 20 years. She passed away from complications related to mitochondrial disease in 2015. The building will be named the Kelsey Wright Building in her honor.

“Kelsey started in the program when she was six years old, and she continued to be involved until medical issues prevented her from traveling to altitude,” said Wright. “She really enjoyed it. She would tell us, ‘This makes me realize that I’m really normal.’ It allowed her to be a dare-devil.”

Wright said his daughter loved to ski fast, and the faster the better, but Kelsey’s involvement in ASC programs wasn’t just about the activity.

“It is so important to understand that for the people involved with Adaptive, it’s not just entertainment for a weekend or a week. These programs help individuals build and maintain their self-image and their sense of where they are in the world,” said Wright. “It’s not like going to the park in your wheelchair and rolling around; it’s empowering. In the Adaptive program people aren’t different. They just have different challenges to overcome. We believe that Adaptive provides the top experience of its kind in the United States and, I would assume, the world.”

The ASC will continue to run winter programs out of the Treasury Center until the Kelsey Wright Building is completed. It will also maintain its building on Belleview in Crested Butte for summer programs, vehicle and gear storage, and intern housing.

For more information about the Adaptive Sports Center, visit www.adaptivesports.org.

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