County Fare: A young mentee pays it forward at Ramblewild

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A modest but heartfelt donation to a local cause rendered a Lanesborough business woman speechless.

According to Valentina Cugnasca, co-founder of aerial adventure park Ramblewild on Brody Mountain Road, a young man from North Adams named Caleb Ballard was visiting recently as part of a group from the YMCA.

"I had the privilege of meeting him on Sunday at Ramblewild," Cugnasca said. "He was part of a group from the Berkshire Family YMCA youth mentorship program run by Carolyn Brooks. The purpose of their trip to Ramblewild is to help the mentors connect with their mentees. Caleb climbed with his mentor."

After his time in the aerial park, Caleb was in the lodge perusing literature about Feronia Forest.

"He was interested in learning about Mission:Maple, our maple syrup," Cugnasca said.

The park's general manager answered his questions, explaining that the sap is sourced on the Feronia Forest property, which includes the aerial park, and that it's called "Mission" because part of the proceeds from the sale of Mission:Maple are donated to Feronia Forward, a nonprofit arm that sponsors trips to Ramblewild. In fact, it was noted, Feronia Forward sponsored the Berkshire Family YMCA youth mentorship program's trip that brought Caleb to the park.

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"Caleb was quiet for a minute," Cugnasca recalled. "He then reached into his pocket, took out a $5 bill and asked if he could make a donation to Feronia Forward."

During an ensuing conversation, she noted, "Caleb said many kind, thoughtful words about his experience at Ramblewild that day. He thanked me, gave me his donation, and with that, rendered me speechless."

She shook his hand, saying it was a privilege to meet him.

"It's a privilege to be here," he replied, Cugnasca said.

"In all the years that we have been sponsoring participants to Ramblewild through Feronia Forward, this is the first time to my knowledge that a scholarship recipient has paid it forward like this," Cugnasca said. "Clearly, Caleb is a special young man and we all feel he deserves some recognition."

County Fare, a weekly column featuring "tales from throughout the Berkshires," is compiled by Eagle staffers.


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