Kelsey Wright Building grand opening on July 2
By Kendra Walker
Three and a half years of campaigning, more than a year of construction and $14 million later, the Adaptive Sports Center (ASC) is finally nestling into its new 25,000-square-foot home.
This month, ASC staff moves into the new Kelsey Wright Building, named in memory of one of the organization’s first and longest attending participants. Into the final stretch of completion, the building is currently undergoing finishing touches for the big reveal to the public on July 2 and it will be a focal piece of the Mt. Crested Butte Base Area.
“One of the best things about our programs is we integrate people with disabilities and people without,” said development director Allison Butcher, referring to the significance of the new building’s location and features. “It’s very thought-out and designed specifically for us. This new space will allow us to better assist the population we’re serving, have the ability to ultimately serve more people with disabilities and maintain organization sustainability by owning our permanent home here on the mountain.”
“We are essentially doubling our space for programming,” said executive director Chris Hensley. “Our participants will be able to come through the tunnel at Mountaineer Square and see a building on the mountain purposed specifically for them.”
“It’s hard to sum up, it’s really going to increase our efficiencies for our groups and daily logistics,” said program director Chris Read. “It’s going to be the best piece of equipment we’ve ever had.”
This week, building inspections are in motion and staff is starting to transition over furniture and equipment from the Treasury Center/Flatiron building. If you’ve seen the impressive structure from the outside, wait until you go inside: giant windows bring in the natural light and the bright, open rooms and tall ceilings make you feel like you’re already playing outside.
“We really wanted to bring the natural elements in so clients can see where they’re going and be able to see what they’re going out into,” said Hensley.
The new building features the “SkiWay,” ski-in, ski-out access that has all staff members jazzed.
“With our current location in the Treasury Center basement, it can take anywhere from 20 minutes to over an hour to get someone ready for a sit-ski lesson,” Butcher explained. “We have to fit them, get them on their chair, take them up the elevator (which often breaks down), out to the slope, get them back into the sit-ski and refit.”
This is a huge time and energy drain for both the staff and their clients. With the new building, “The main programming floor butts right up to where they groom the ski hill, we’ll be able to fit people up and push them right onto the slopes,” said Hensley.
The ski-in, ski-out access is but one of many perks and program improvements to ASC’s new stomping grounds.
In recent years ASC often had to turn away groups due to capacity limitations, but the new building will allow them to serve more people and host multiple groups, families and individuals at a time. Their dedicated housing floor will accommodate up to 17 guests and includes an industrial kitchen and common areas that will allow groups to mingle, eat together and debrief in a comfortable, therapeutic space.
“A really cool thing about that is having people participate together in an activity on the hill but also be able to come together at night to talk about it and share their experience,” said Butcher.
Let’s not forget the two-story, indoor climbing wall that greets you in the main entrance hall, which will be used for year-round programs, staff training and rainy-day activities. “It’s going to enhance the climbing progression for our participants in a controlled environment, then be able to progress outside to our climbing locations,” shared Read.
The top floor event space and rooftop deck provides unobstructed views of the base area and mountain, “perfect for families to watch their child coming down the hill,” said Hensley.
ASC is also considering renting out the space to community events in the future. “We’ve already had tons of requests,” Butcher laughs. “For now we want to take our time and make sure our needs for our mission are being met first.”
The new building also includes two elevators (just in case one breaks down), administrative offices, an ADA vehicle loading entrance, a staff and public locker room, along with additional multi-purpose spaces designed for group activities, quiet time and overall ease of getting around for guests.
During the making of the building, ASC received about half a million dollars of in-kind contributions and donations, and many local contractors and artists were involved in creating custom components, fixtures, displays and more. “A humungous thank you to everyone who made this happen,” said Read. “It’s truly been a massive, massive group effort.”
ASC will host their first group stay in the new building in mid-July with a teenage group from Texas Scottish Rite Hospital. “They’re a phenomenally cool group, but without this new building it would be a difficult group to find housing for and accommodate their specific needs,” said Read.
The community is invited to the Kelsey Wright Building grand opening celebration on Tuesday, July 2, from 5 to 7 p.m. “Everyone is welcome. We would love as many people as possible,” said Butcher. “We want people to come and celebrate the opening with us, celebrate how much this community, and really the whole country, has helped to make this project happen.”
ASC is also looking for volunteers to help them move over furniture and equipment into the new building. If interested, contact Ben Banker at firstname.lastname@example.org.