A nonprofit in Vermont is celebrating the opening of a new ski lodge that has been several years in the making.
“It’s very exciting,” said Emily Cioffi, who attended Friday’s ribbon-cutting ceremony for Murphy’s Annex at Sugarbush Resort’s Mount Ellen.
The 4,000 square-foot facility is the second permanent home in Vermont for Vermont Adaptive Ski and Sports.
It boasts three floors served by an elevator. Features include year-round storage for adaptive equipment, accessible entryways and exits, connecting pathways to Sugarbush’s adjacent remodeled lodge and a sensory room for people who like to take a break from noise or overstimulation.
Cioffi, a physician assistant for a Boston spine clinic, was an avid skier before an injury caused paralysis to her legs. She said Vermont Adaptive helped her keep enjoying the sport — with a monoski.
“It’ll mean so much for everyone who’ll come here,” Cioffi said of the new facility in Fayston.
The nonprofit organization’s more than $2.5 million center, which still needs some finishing touches and additional fundraising, replaces a cramped, outdated, 400 square-foot space on the site.
The new building will continue breaking down barriers for youth and adults with disabilities, said Vermont Adaptive’s executive director, Erin Fernandez.
“Generations of people are going to enjoy this facility,” Fernandez said. “You want to feel independent. That’s what we’re about, really — leveling that playing field. And our equipment does that and our volunteers do that.”
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The industry group Ski Vermont hopes the upgrade sends a welcoming signal that more visitors should be able to access the mountains.
“I think it really sets Vermont apart,” said the president of Ski Vermont, Molly Mahar. “Certainly when we look at more diversity, inclusion, equity — this is a big step in that direction.”
Cioffi, who has seen lives transformed through Vermont Adaptive’s focus on inclusion and instruction, said she plans more trips up from Boston this winter to visit the space that’ll reinforce how sports are for every body.
“I think having a building and a space that is more welcoming to that community will make a big difference in who decides to come and who really gives it a shot out on the snow this winter,” Cioffi said.
Beyond skiing, the nonprofit plans to use its new facility for a range of other offerings, including yoga, programs for veterans, wellness seminars and nutrition classes.
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