Army veteran and amputee Peter Sargent has been volunteering with Maine Adaptive Sports & Recreation for 22 years in their Veterans No Boundaries program, which provides free clinics for adaptive sports, including skiing and snowboarding at Sunday River. This season, he was recognized as a Difference Maker of the Week by the New England Patriots, which celebrates volunteerism through the New England Patriots Charitable Foundation, and was honored at their December 20, 2015 game at Gillette Stadium, where the Pats snagged a win from the Tennessee Titans. I caught up with Peter to talk about his experiences with the program and to see if Tom Brady is as cute in person as he is on TV.
How did you get involved with Maine Adaptive?
Before I volunteered, I was a participant. I learned to ski at Sunday River because my oldest son did the Ski Maine program in the 5th grade. He brought home a trail map from Sunday River and showed me. I was very interested because I didn’t know anything about skiing at the time—let alone adaptive opportunities. My wife and I showed up to South Ridge and we turned around in the Maine Adaptive parking lot. My wife went into the building, chatted with the team there, and told me I had an appointment with them when she got back in the car.
What do you do with the program at Sunday River?
I teach both skiing and snowboarding in free lessons to participants. I personally prefer skiing over snowboarding because I’m better at it, but they’re both very fun.
What activities are you involved with in the summer?
I usually do the golf, cycling, and paddling, and hiking activities.
Why do you feel that it’s important to give back with a non-profit like Maine Adaptive?
The biggest part of it is that I’m the one receiving. It’s been a big growing and healing process for me. It’s rewarding to see someone change and accept getting out and trying new challenges. The smile on their face when they realize they can do something is the most wonderful part. So really, it’s as much about receiving as it is about giving.
How does it feel to be named for such an honor by the Patriots?
It is quite an honor—but also kind of scary. It’s fantastic. Maine Adaptive has done a lot for me in the growing and healing process. It’s a great thing for anyone who has a disability. When you get involved in a program where everyone has a disability, injury, disease, then you feel more comfortable. I found in last 10 years that I’m a pretty good role model for these people, so it’s easier to teach them the skills. They help me to become a better person. I’m glad I get to share that and be a representative of the program.
Are you a Pats fan?
Yes of course! I have been for many years, but I had never been to a game before this one. I even met Robert Kraft, the owner of the Patriots, and Andre Tippett [the Patriots’ Executive Director of Community Affairs, former linebacker, and Hall of Famer].
What was it like going out on the field?
I had a great time. I thought I’d be nervous but by the time we made it out to the field, it really was an incredible experience. There were 15 of us there and we were each led out by a cheerleader. Then we were introduced and it was so exciting.
For more information on all that Maine Adaptive Sports & Recreation has to offer, visit maineadaptive.org.