Amy Bannon ‘14 was impacted by White Mountain in a number of meaningful ways, but the moment she describes here is the one that really set her on the course she continues to pursue today. When Amy heard a morning meeting presentation by Sandy Olney P’04, Executive Director of Adaptive Sports Partners of the North Country, she felt a spark and knew immediately that volunteering with ASPNC was how the wanted to spend her winter. “She spoke with infectious enthusiasm, and I left that morning reading feeling responsible to contribute to such an amazing organization. Instead of recreational skiing after school in the winter, I spent three days volunteering with ASPNC and couldn’t have been more thrilled. I saw how therapeutic and beneficial skiing was to our participants both behaviorally and physically.”
Amy had enjoyed a number of previous experiences as a volunteer with various programs aimed at helping those with disabilities access recreational activities. When she was in high school in Rhode Island before starting at White Mountain, she helped to train Special Olympic athletes at Yawgoo Valley Ski Area and she assisted with various recreational programs in her local community. Amy began to recognize the growing passion that she had developed for connecting those with disabilities to outdoor spaces through sports and recreation. With this foundation in place, her exposure to the work she was able to do at ASPNC was life-changing and helped her see that this was work she could and would pursue in her future.
After her graduation from White Mountain, Amy spent one year at the University of New Hampshire and then transferred to Prescott College in Arizona to pursue a degree in outdoor program administration with a minor in education. It was a chance encounter on a ski lift at the Arizona Snowbowl in 2015 that opened the door for Amy to continue the work she was so passionate about in a new part of the country. She was in her first season of working at the mountain when she found herself sitting next to Alex Davenport, the founder and Executive Director of the Northern Arizona Adaptive Sports Association, on the chairlift. He had recently started the non-profit program and Amy immediately expressed interest in volunteering as an instructor and in helping to grow the program. In the three years since, they have certainly accomplished that. Last winter they had 470 participants and they continue to add instructors and equipment in order to serve people with a wide range of disabilities. Alex Davenport has seen Amy’s impact on the program firsthand. He said the following:
“Her dedication to adaptive sports and the people who participate in them was apparent the day I met her. Amy is both bright and very dedicated. During her time with our Adaptive Ski School she has helped facilitate hundreds of lessons and taught over 300 students herself. She has been and continues to be a pivotal part of our growing non-profit organization. It’s rare to find someone so passionate about what they do and we are so lucky to have her.”
At White Mountain, we feel lucky to have had Amy as a student and more recently, as a member of the faculty when she was back on campus this past fall to work in the outdoor education department and coach climbing. Come winter though, she was back in Arizona to complete her senior year at Prescott and to continue her amazing work with the NAASA that is so impactful for so many people. Amy will return to White Mountain in June as the Communications Manager and we look forward to the impact that she will make in this new role.