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Enter the GOODE Bracket Challenge for your chance to win a free ski

The GOODE Virtual Water Ski Bracket Challenge™ is back, once again pitting many of the world’s best 34 mph water skiers against each other in head-to-head match-ups and testing fans’ skiing knowledge with an March-Madness like contest.

World champions and record holders, up-and-coming stars, Senior Worlds and Big Dawg champs, and perennial National title contenders. The 2017 Bracket Challenge is loaded.  Click here to see the full field of 16.

Fill out your bracket now before the June 16th entry deadline.

Like previous years, there will be some serious prizes on the line for the top finishers in the online fan contest.  The overall winner will win a free GOODE RéV 6 or Nano 1/XT, while the second- and third-place finishers will receive prize packages from GOODE’s online store.

But you can’t win if you don’t enter. Submit your bracket here, or click here for more information about how the online contest works.

Latest national magazine ad for GOODE Skis

ThinkSpark Media launches vtpsychiatry.org

ThinkSpark Media is proud to launch vtpsychiatry.org, the first-ever website for the Vermont Psychiatric Association.

ThinkSpark Media launches new weekly e-newsletter for the Vermont Medical Society

Doctors are really busy people, so they can’t be expected to read a new email every time something important in the health care field pops up.

That’s why the Vermont Medical Society turned to ThinkSpark Media to create and manage an engaging weekly e-newsletter that provides VMS members with comprehensive health-care related news, events and announcements all in one convenient location.

Call it one-stop-shopping for the physician set. Read the first issue and all subsequent ones here.






Introducing the Northeast Slalom Series

Connecting corporate sponsors with passionate enthusiasts, ThinkSpark Media today announced it’s foray into the world of sports event marketing with the launch of the Northeast Slalom Series (NESS).

NESS is a six-stop, five-state “tour” bringing more excitement and competition to tournament water skiing with a season-long points chase culminating in a cash-prize, head-to-head finals.

ThinkSpark Media inked five corporate sponsors – Avon Self Storage, GOODE Skis, Centurion Boats, foregroup, and h2oproshop.com – and launched a dedicated website (WaterSkiTheEast.com) in support of the series.

New GOODE Skis product video

Op-ed opposing Governor Shumlin’s proposed provider tax gains statewide coverage

The below op-ed was written on behalf of the Vermont Medical Society in opposition to Governor Peter Shumlin’s recently announced plan to assess a provider tax on independent physicians, a move the Society fears could drastically threaten the future of independent providers in Vermont.

The op-ed was picked up by several outlets, including the Montpelier-Barre Times Argus, Burlington Free Press and VTDigger.

Gov. Shumlin’s Medicaid “cure” worse than the underlying disease

In recent years, Governor Peter Shumlin has, to his credit, shined a spotlight on the chronic underfunding of Medicaid in Vermont, a situation in which doctors who care for Medicaid patients are paid less than what it actually costs them to provide the service.

That’s what makes his recent proposal to levy a new tax on independent physicians – the ones who in many cases are already losing money caring for Medicaid patients – so disheartening.

In proposing his tax, Governor Shumlin has said it will help “hardworking family docs who have been struggling,” but as one physician recently told the House Ways and Means Committee, the tax threatens to put non-hospital employed doctors “out of business and leave some Vermonters without care.”

The proposed 2.35-percent tax on independent physicians, which if passed would be retroactive to Jan. 1, 2016, would generate $17 million in revenue for the state. It would draw a federal match of $20 million for a total of $37 million. Of that, only $3.4 million of new revenues would be returned to independent primary care physicians in the form of increased Medicaid payments beginning July 1, while dentists would receive approximately $1 million in increased payments.

It’s not hard to see that paying out $17 million, only to receive $4.4 million in increased Medicaid payments, is not a good deal for health care providers. One rural practice has estimated that the tax will cost it $40,000, which is a substantial sum for a small business with already razor-thin margins.

Besides the obvious irony of imposing a new tax on already struggling independent practices, the real danger lies in what it will do to patients’ access to primary care. It would severely hamper Vermont’s ability to attract and retain physicians, a particularly troubling development considering the state’s current and worsening physician shortage. If physicians are forced out of practice, and those practices that survive aren’t able to recruit new doctors or replace retiring ones because of newly imposed financial disincentives, it will become harder and harder for Vermonters to get in to see their doctors.

This, as Gov. Shumlin pointed out in his January budget address, is already being seen in Franklin County, which within the last year has lost four of its 11 pediatricians due in part to low Medicaid reimbursement. As a result of the physicians leaving practice, closing up shop or leaving the state altogether, an estimated 6,000 young patients were left searching for access to primary health care.

This tax would put Vermont at a distinct recruiting disadvantage because it would soon make it the only state in the country to impose one on independent physicians. Minnesota – the only other state to impose such a tax – plans to sunset theirs in 2019.

The Vermont Medical Society urges the General Assembly to reject the proposed 2.35 percent tax on independent physicians and dentists, due to the crippling economic impact on the state’s health care system, and the high probability that it will decrease patients’ access to care.

Governor Shumlin’s plan to cure the state’s Medicaid deficit by taxing independent physicians is far worse than the underlying disease. Vermonters need a second opinion.


The GOODE Bracket Challenge is back!

We’ve had a lot of fun creating and growing this project, now in its third year, for GOODE Skis.  Not only does it help us stay on top of our open-source software game, but it also allows us to put our water ski expertise to good use. 

The GOODE Virtual Water Ski Bracket Challenge™ is back and features its best ever field of competitors.

In addition to many of the world’s best 34 mph skiers, the 2015 Bracket Challenge features a who’s who of 36 mph skiers as well. Now names like Parrish, Degasperi and Finlayson have joined the likes of Jaquess, Miller and Newby-Ricci.

Once again fans will be able to test their skiing knowledge and enter their own March-Madness like brackets. The fan with the best bracket will win a FREE GOODE FlexTail, while other top finishers will receive GOODE prize packages. But you can’t win if you don’t enter. Fill out and submit your bracket here before the July 23rd entry deadline.

The overall bracket will have two halves – one for 36 and the other for 34 mph skiers – with a winner from each bracket facing off against each other for the Bracket Challenge title. In the final round, speed is not taken into consideration to determine the bracket winner. The rope length and number of buoys is the sole determinant of the winner. For example, if Regina Jaquess scored 3 buoys at 41 off (at 34 mph), she would beat Trent Finlayson’s score of 2 buoys at 41 off (36 mph).

To fill out and submit a bracket, or for more information, including rules, click here.

Governor Shumlin signs bill eliminating philosophical exemption to immunizations

ThinkSpark Media has been greatly honored to work with the American Academy of Pediatrics Vermont Chapter to pass legislation that achieves a first-in-the-nation outcome and significantly improves Vermont’s ability to prevent deadly and debilitating disease outbreaks.

Beginning with the defeat of similar legislation in 2012, ThinkSpark worked with the state’s pediatricians to inform legislators and rally public support around strengthening Vermont’s immunization laws. The effort required long hours in the statehouse, and nothing short of the entire toolkit of modern marketing and PR – online video, digital media buys, website development, social media management, media relations, data mining, and strategy and messaging.


Vermont pediatricians applaud Gov. Shumlin for signing bill removing philosophical exemption to immunizations

Contact: Justin Campfield | justin@thinksparkmedia.com | (802) 683-9889

Montpelier, Vt. (May 28, 2015) – The American Academy of Pediatrics Vermont Chapter (AAPVT) today applauded Governor Peter Shumlin for his efforts to protect the health of Vermonters by signing into law legislation that eliminates the philosophical exemption to immunizations beginning July 1, 2016.

The bill, H.98, was passed by the Vermont General Assembly on May 14, and signed by Gov. Shumlin today.

“Vermont’s pediatricians would like to thank Governor Shumlin, as well as the General Assembly and Health Commissioner Harry Chen, M.D., for their courage on this important issue,” said Barbara Frankowski, M.D., president of the AAPVT. “Eliminating the philosophical exemption will no doubt protect the health of Vermonters by increasing the state’s immunization rates and ensuring that it is more difficult for deadly and debilitating diseases to gain a foothold in the state.”

By eliminating the philosophical exemption, the AAPVT says, the state has signaled just how important immunizations are to the well-being of not only children, but all members of society.

“This isn’t just a private health issue that affects a single child or family, but a public health issue that impacts all Vermonters, in all parts of the state,” said Dr. Frankowski. “As a community, we all rely on each other’s cooperation to stave of diseases that plagued generations before us, but that we are lucky enough to know little about today.”

According to data provided by the Vermont Department of Health, during the 2013/14 school year, 56 percent of Vermont k-12 students attended a school with overall immunization rates below the 95-percent threshold considered adequate by many health care professionals to maintain herd immunity. Twenty-six percent attended a school with rates lower than 90 percent.

Vermont has the lowest childhood immunization rates in New England, and the use of the philosophical exemption has more than doubled between 2007-08 and 2014-15. In 2007-08, the rates of philosophical exemptions for kindergarteners and seventh graders were 2.7 and 1.7 percent respectively. In 2014-15, those rates went up to 5.8 and 4.0, respectively.

Keeping Docs up to date


The 2015 Vermont Legislative Session is off and running in Montpelier and ThinkSpark Media is helping the state’s physicians stay up-to-date on a dizzying array of health care reform efforts.

Last year we helped our client, the Vermont Medical Society, develop the Montpelier Minute, a quick video summary of the health-care related activities of the Vermont General Assembly and Shumlin administration.

This year we are proud to debut an electronic version of VMS’ Legislative Bulletin, a companion piece to the Montpelier Minute that goes into deeper detail.

View the video above and take a look at the latest issue of the e-newsletter here.