Consider volunteering, keep on nominating and Spread the Love — it’s an all-chamber Buzz.

Don Ballute Kathryn Skelton/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

Don Ballute, interim executive director at Maine Adaptive Sports & Recreation, spoke Thursday morning at the Lewiston Auburn Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce’s monthly breakfast about his group’s impact on people and the economy.

He told attendees at the Hilton Garden Inn Auburn Riverwatch who had braved the snow that it serves 400 people a year, 60% during winter, with the help of 375 trained volunteer instructors and a staff of 17 during the winter.

The nonprofit started 38 years ago at Sunday River as Maine Handicap Skiing. Up until nine years ago, it only worked with individuals with physical disabilities; it’s since opened up to all disabilities.

In the winter, there’s skiing, snowshoeing, snowboarding and climbing. In the summer, golf, paddling, cycling, tennis and climbing.

Ballute said it allows participants to take risks and challenge themselves and also draws people accompanying athletes to the area, sometimes from around the country.


“It’s good for the mountains that host them,” he said. One student signed up for ski lessons next week during school vacation “is bringing 20 people with him. When you talk about economic development, it’s a pretty good thing.”

The group is always looking for volunteers, he said.

Ballute also encouraged attendees to go back to work that morning and look around to see how accessible their business was for wheelchairs and crutches on a snowy day.

“I thought I was pretty good at it and I thought I knew what I was doing before I got this job, but it’s been eye-opening how people cannot get into your facilities, to get into your businesses, so take a look at that,” he said.

Keep on nominating

The deadline for Uplift LA’s 40 Under 40 nominations has been extended to Feb. 21 due to weather and website issues.


It’s open to young professionals who will be under the age of 40 by Dec. 31. The awards dinner in planned for June.

“We really hope that you’ll take a minute, whether you’re an employer or HR manager, somebody who’s under 40, someone who’s over 70, I don’t really care, to recognize somebody who is working hard and on a career path that makes this region great and your business great,” said Chamber President Shanna Cox. “We need to keep those folks in this region.”

New giveaway/fundraiser

LA Chamber President Shanna Cox with the Spread the Love campaign board. Kathryn Skelton/Sun Journal

On the day before Valentine’s Day, Cox also debuted the new Spread the Love campaign, part giveaway, part chamber fundraiser.

“This is a way for us to, really in an authentic and tangible way, help circulate the love and the dollars of our members to our members,” said Cox.

Participants pick an envelope numbered up to 200, purchase it at face value — for instance $40 for envelope no. 40, and receive that same number of chances put into a drawing.

At the end of Spread the Love, four winners will be picked for one of four baskets each with $1,000 worth of locally bought goods.

“We will go spend $4,000 with our members on the best shopping workday of my life where we give directly back to our members and purchase from you goods, services and products,” she said.

The balance of the funds will support chamber staffing, space, technology, communications, scholarships and the Strengthen LA effort, according to Cox.

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