The Mountain Times

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Vermont Adaptive announces Volunteer of the Year award winners

Vermont Adaptive Ski and Sports, the largest year-round disabled sports non-profit organization in Vermont, recently announced that Ross Almo, of Mendon, Harrison Keyes, a student at the University of Vermont, and Norm Staunton, of Colchester, are the 2012 recipients of the organization's annual Jim Hutchinson Volunteer of the Year Award.

"These three volunteers exemplify what Jim Hutchinson stood for when it comes to being a volunteer," said Executive Director Erin Fernandez. "They tirelessly offered their time and talent to the organization throughout the year and all three truly stood apart with their willingness to learn and execute many aspects of our programs."

The Jim Hutchinson Memorial Volunteer of the Year Award honors the exemplary efforts outstanding individuals. Jim Hutchinson embodied the meaning of volunteer with his tireless dedication, strong leadership and big heart. Each year individuals are nominated for the annual volunteer of the year award in his honor and names are added to a memorial plaque hanging at each program location.

Almo, despite his own personal and business hardships as a result of Tropical Storm Irene, lent outstanding support to the organization and staff during Irene Recovery, where the Pico program location sustained approximately $10,000 worth of damage. He hosted a housewarming fundraising party, attended the Hartford Ski Spectacular in Colorado to continue his education in adaptive snow sports and continues to bring many resources with him to the organization as a volunteer including his good nature, community involvement, awareness, and knack for getting things done. He also is involved in summer programming and special events throughout the year, showing his year-round dedication and devotion to helping others.

Keyes is the president and leader of the UVM Adaptive Sports Club, where he has taken the club to new heights and increased interest and commitment of the student participants, exceeding all of Vermont Adaptive's expectations. He rallied large groups of student volunteers to assist in daily lessons, special events and fundraisers. The pinnacle of Keye's work came last season when he spear-headed a grant application to the Newman's Foundation on behalf of the UVM Club and Vermont Adaptive that ultimately led to a $10,000 award which is being used for sit down equipment as well as training.

Staunton has been involved in adaptive sports for over a decade at varying programs throughout New England. He has his masters degree in Adventure Education and 12 years of experience teaching adaptive skiing  He has been a volunteer with Vermont

Adaptive for many years and brings a depth of knowledge from the volunteer perspective. In addition to his volunteerism, he is not only a full-time student, but is employed full-time as well. He is an important resource and knowledgeable on equipment, safety, and teaching techniques. Staunton was involved in the Irene recovery at Pico as well, repairing damaged equipment that needed immediate attention. He also is one of the race coaches for the Vermont Adaptive alpine team and is responsible for setting the race course each Sunday, planning activities for racers and organizing all race functions. He passion for adaptive sports and for helping others is like non-other.

For more information, visit www.vermontadaptive.org.