Friday, January 25, 2013

Ski and Play Hockey with Nancy!

Is there someone in your community who excels at helping others have fun? In any community there are usually fun-loving individuals who often work hard to raise the quality of life for those willing and able to participate. In the realm of adaptive recreation in western Massachusetts, one such individual seems to rise above all others in the endeavor to create fun for everyone - Nancy Bazanchuk.

Nancy and a young friend at a recent adaptive
skating program in Holyoke.
I've known Nancy since 1995 when she attended one of our very first adaptive rowing programs on the Connecticut River. When I asked her if she needed assistance to get into a rowing shell, she politely answered "No thanks!", then cartwheeled out of her wheelchair onto the dock, ambled over to the boat and got in, forever changing how I perceived people in wheelchairs. Over the years we've collaborated on adaptive cycling as well as witnessed and promoted each others programs year round.

Nancy and Marcy skate together
keeping an eye on participants.

I spoke with Nancy last weekend at our adaptive skating program in Holyoke and she reminded me that she just wants to make sure that people today get the same great opportunities to play that she has had. Her monthly newsletter from the CHD (Center for Human Development) Disability Resource Program, where she works in Springfield, offers an astounding array of opportunities.  Wheelchair basketball, power soccer, dance, bowling, goal ball, and swim lessons are just some of the regular activities. In winter she also manages two sled hockey teams and organizes downhill skiing trips. Year round she has a limited selection of adaptive recreation equipment (handcycles, skis, beach wheelchair, etc.) that can be rented for those who would like to recreate on their own.

Nancy inspires me through her deep community connections. She seems to know everyone personally and links people to each other and new possibilities continuously. People who come to her programs return again and again. This level of personal commitment to others over many years truly enriches the quality of life for everyone, for the whole community. Thanks Nancy - for all you do!!!

If you live in western Massachusetts and want to get out and have fun with Nancy, here are two winter opportunities not to miss!

Downhill Skiing - Join an upcoming trip to Mount Snow in West Dover, VT or at Pico in Killington, VT. The program includes all types of adaptive skiing, with equipment provided by either Abilities Plus (Mount Snow) or Vermont Adaptive Sports and Ski (Pico). The group carpools to the location, then skis for the day with a one-hour lunch break. $55 per person covers the lift pass, ski rental and instructor. Family members and friends are welcome to ski but the cost may vary for them. Upcoming dates are February 17 at Pico, March 3 at Mount Snow, and March 17 at Pico.

Sled Hockey - The Western Mass Knights are an adult team and the Springfield Sliders are a junior team. Both teams practice at the Amelia Park Ice Arena in Westfield, where a major sled hockey tournament takes place in April with teams from all over the Northeast. Nancy is always looking for more players for this fast-paced growing sport, and you don't have to have disability to qualify. Junior players are especially needed for the second half of this season!

You can reach Nancy at 413-788-9695 or

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