What does one say about a young man who began his life a victim of cerebral palsy but ended it a hero to most around him because he opened everyone’s eyes to what handicapped people can do?
Peter was confined to a wheelchair or crutches for most of his life but that did not stop him from goals he set for himself. Peter’s mantra was “You’re only handicapped if you think you are.”
He attended school in Millbridge and lived there for the first few years of his life. He moved to Belleville in 1973.
Among his many accomplishments, Peter was the president of ADAPT (All Disabled Are People Too). This organization was formed to heighten public awareness of the needs of the handicapped.
Peter had a shoeshine business in Century Place in Belleville. It operated five days a week.
A smile was Pete’s way of doing business if he were shining shoes, addressing politicians, or action groups to make more facilities accessible for wheelchairs.
Peter was instrumental in initiating the project to get mobile service (a mini bus) for handicapped use in Belleville.
In 1973, Peter met with Queen Elizabeth II and was presented with the Ontario Medal for Good Citizenship. He was 22 years old.
Peter took over as coach of a minor hockey team and led them to major victory despite his wheelchair.
This extremely active young man travelled Ontario extensively to meetings and conventions on behalf of disabled persons everywhere.
At a gathering at Belleville General Hospital with the theme “No tears, just cheers” hundreds of people who had been influenced by Peter’s smile, determination and sheer strength paid tribute to the person who fought for the rights of handicapped persons with great conviction.
In April of 1994 Peter lost his fight with cancer at the age of 44.
For those of us who grew up with Peter, what a privilege and honour to know a man such as he.