Volunteers honored for their work

Photo provided -Aaron Korzun, second from the right, skis with a group from Vermont Adaptive.

Photo provided -Aaron Korzun, second from the right, skis with a group from Vermont Adaptive.

By Lola Duffort

The paths that brought Amy Peacock and Aaron Korzun to Vermont Adaptive Ski and Sports could not be more different.

A pediatric physical therapist for nearly three decades, Peacock, 55, of Mendon, decided volunteering with the nonprofit group, which helps people with disabilities participate in inclusive sports, would be a natural progression from her practice.

“It felt like the right place to put my energy,” Peacock said.

And she strapped on skis for the first time in decades — at 50 — to do it.

An engineer, farmer and lifelong skier, Korzun, 48, of Shrewsbury, remembers the countless times he skied around Vermont Adaptive groups on Killington. But a farming accident in 2012 broke his back in nine places, landed him in physical therapy for a year — and caused him to reconsider how he spent his time.

He stopped working at as an engineer, refocused on farming — and signed up with Vermont Adaptive.

Peacock and Korzun were recognized earlier in December by the group as its volunteers of the year, alongside Tony Blake of Charlotte.

“It is a really positive place. And success is celebrated no matter how big and how small it is,” Peacock said. “And we see almost miraculous things happen.”

As someone who has worked with people with disabilities her entire professional life, Peacock said she’s often “surprised, but not surprised,” by the feats her clients can accomplish with a little help. “I’ve seen how adaptive things can be,” she said.

Still, “when somebody says ‘this changed my life,’” — it never gets old, she said.

One of her favorite moments with the Adaptive Ski and Sport, Peacock said, involved helping a woman doggedly train for Special Olympics in Pomfret throughout one winter.

“It didn’t hurt that she won the gold metal in her division,” Peacock said.

A volunteer ski instructor with Vermont Adaptive, Korzun said his favorite part is getting families out on the slopes during lessons. “I always say, ‘the more, the merrier,’” he said.

“I feel so strongly that we live in an amazing state with incredible outdoor recreation opportunities and that everyone should be able to take advantage of that,” Peacock said.

And for Korzun, too, it’s ultimately about enjoying yourself.

He always tells nervous students the same thing during a lesson: “I just try and remind people that we’re just out here having fun in the snow.”