In 1980 Peter Treacey of Brome Lake lost his leg in an accident. After this he taught skiing in the Laurentians, but as he lived in the Eastern Townships he yearned to start a ski program in our area.
On January 25th, 1995 Peter and his colleague at work, Jean Provencher, launched the Adaptive Sports Ski School at Owl’s Head with five students and ten volunteers. “We had one snowmobile and a trailer we bought for $100. I borrowed $10,000 to buy other equipment.”
Peter told us “We had lots of heart and everyone loved working with the students. Mr. Korman, then owner of the mountain, was impressed that no matter the weather the participants showed up for their classes, even on days when the regular ski school was closed. For them, spending a day on the mountains was very special. They would never want to miss that.” Peter invested all his energy on this for years, until two years ago when he had to hang up his skis due to cancer. His health is now his priority, even if, like Jean Provencher, he has the Foundation tattooed on his heart. There are many wonderful stories like this. They explain why the volunteers keep coming back, year after year.
Take the story of the Vermette family. Returning from mass one Sunday, their car was struck by a driver who had dropped his cellphone. The mother died in the collision, her three children in the back seat all became paraplegics. The family applied to the Foundation to enroll the children in the mono-ski program. Because the Foundation did not have the proper equipment, it was brought in from the United States. The first day, Jean went to the top of the trails with the youngsters. Exhausted, their father fell asleep in a chair. Peter brought him up in a snowmobile to watch his children descend the trail. Visibly moved, the father began to cry like a baby. It was the first time in a year he had seen his children laugh.
The Foundation has diversified since Steve Charbonneau became General Manager in October 2014. It now includes 200 active volunteers, including 100 for the winter season. For over 20 years Owl’s Head was the only location in the Townships where adaptive skiing was taught. It is still the only structured adaptive ski program in Quebec. It now includes several mobile units and offers private courses, such as the night program at Bromont for people who work during the day.
There are also joint events held with co-partners. A yearly event with the Starlight Foundation is held at Chantecler, where 100 youths ski over the weekend. Recently, a two-day event was held at Bromont to celebrate the True Patriot Love Foundation’s 10th Winter Sports Forum for wounded soldiers. Yan Martin, the dynamic ski program director, himself in a wheelchair, is a former participant. Everyone who gets involved in the Foundation, as a participant or volunteer, is deeply moved by the experience.
The goal of the Foundation is to promote inclusion through sport. Every year, young and less young can learn to ski thanks to generous gifts which enable the Foundation to fund 100% of its programs. Steve Charbonneau sees the big picture. His goal is to make the program available across Quebec. A true team player, he is building a network to make this happen. To become a volunteer or make a gift, contact the Adaptive Sports Foundation at 450-243- 5985 or www.sportsadaptes.ca
Translation by Tam Davis