NEWRY — Adapting equipment to fit the recreational needs of the disabled for 30 years led to another adaptation on New Year’s Day for Maine Handicapped Skiing: a name change.

They are now known as Maine Adaptive Sports & Recreation; or for short, Maine Adaptive.

For five-year client John Pelletier, the adaptation is a perfect fit.

“The name is very appropriate, I think,” said the Massachusetts native with a year-round camp in Denmark, Maine.

In 2007, after getting a deer while hunting, he fell about 23 feet out of a tree stand and suffered a T11 spinal cord injury. He’s been wheelchair-bound ever since.

However, thanks to Maine Adaptive, he’s now a very adept dual sit-ski alpine skier, who also does hand-cycling and is helping Maine Adaptive start up some wheelchair tennis clinics this summer.

“I’m a big wheelchair tennis player, again with adaptive equipment, and I have a hand-cycle that I use,” Pelletier said.

“So the name ‘adaptive’ is really appropriate. Just because I can’t walk doesn’t mean I can’t do things like ski, play tennis and ride a bike. You just have to adapt it to your particular injury.”

The growth and expansion of the 30-year-old nonprofit organization’s four-season activities has prompted the development of its new identity program. This includes the name change, a new logo and an updated website to be launched soon, Outreach Director Eric Topper said Friday in Portland.

The new website will be at Until then, the Maine Handicapped website at reflects the name change.

The organization began at Sunday River as a winter skiing program to provide and promote adaptive recreation for people with physical disabilities from ages 4 and up. It has since grown to include year-round programs at 20 different locations statewide.

All Maine Adaptive programs will remain entirely free of charge for participants, just as they have from the beginning back in 1982.

In 2011, Maine Handicapped served more than 400 people with disabilities and enlisted nearly 400 volunteer instructors in lessons in alpine and Nordic skiing, snowshoeing, golf, canoe and kayak paddling, cycling and fishing, Topper said.

They also tried a small hiking program last fall for blind and visually impaired clients on Bradbury Mountain in Pownal that proved successful enough to offer again, he said.

Winter activities are alpine and Nordic skiing, snowboarding and snowshoeing. Summer activities include golf, paddling, cycling, fly-cast and saltwater fishing, and hiking.

“Transportation and getting to the places where we offer this stuff has often been one of the biggest barriers,” Topper said.

That’s been resolved with the donation of a van, a grant for adaptive equipment and a decision to take the programs statewide in Maine.

Additionally, their clients are now coming from all over the world instead of primarily Maine and New England.

“We have a participant who comes from Italy every year for about four days, we have a number of different folks from Canada and we’re starting to do specialty programs … to enhance the travel aspect,” Topper said.

For example, they’re debuting the New England Blind and Visually Impaired Ski Festival from Feb. 12 to 17 at Sugarloaf in Carrabassett Valley.

Blind skier Scott Anderson, who is also active with Maine Adaptive, helped to develop the festival idea.

Maine Adaptive is expanding its winter programs this year to include five dates each at Saddleback Ski Resort in Rangeley and Black Mountain of Maine in Rumford and the Camden Snow Bowl.

Like Pelletier, Topper’s very excited about the name change.

“It really reflects the fact that we’re actively trying to widen the scope of our work throughout the state and the disability community,” he said.

“We’re open. We’ve got a van, we’ve got a name, we’ve got the equipment and we’re ready to go mobile. So we’re looking for more communities to serve.”

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