LEWISTON — Peter Geiger is famous for forecasting the weather a year in advance. This is not an easy man to fool.

His colleagues managed it Thursday night, though, when they tempted him to go to the Green Ladle in Lewiston, where he was awarded for his longtime support of local schools and programs.

Was he really surprised?

“Are you kidding?” he said, minutes after his colleagues hit him with it. 

Geiger thought he was showing up to hear sportscaster Tom Caron say a few words about Project Steps To Real-Life Transitions’ 10th anniversary. Instead, Geiger was presented a plaque and informed that the yearly START Stars Award has been renamed the Peter Geiger START Stars Award in his honor.

“I was shocked,” he said. 

Frankly, Geiger should have seen it coming.

For a good part of the night, a line of schoolteachers and administrators had been up at the podium, singing his praises.

“Thank you, Peter,” said Lewiston Middle School teacher and Aspirations Coordinator Billie Jo Brito, “for providing valuable feedback and encouraging words for the past 10 years.”

Jo-An Lantz, CEO of Geiger Group and the 2009 START Star, lauded her boss for the impact he has had on students “not only in Lewiston-Auburn but on a state basis.”

“He has been so incredibly generous and supportive,” said Tracey Blaisdell, a Lewiston Middle School educator and member of the START team.

Though they love him dearly, Geiger’s friends and colleagues said the plan all along was to surprise him at the Thursday night affair.

“He likes to stay in the background,” Blaisdell said. “but we’re going to throw him out there in the front tonight. We really wanted this to be a complete surprise.”

According to Geiger, their mission was accomplished.

“Well,” he said, when he was hit with the news. “This is embarrassing.”

As expected, Geiger went the humble route.

All he does is write a few checks here and there, he said. The real heroes are people like Brito and Blaisdell and Luntz, who work day in and day out to keep the programs going.

“I don’t deserve all the accolades,” Geiger said. “Congratulations to everybody.”

Geiger’s history of supporting education, though, tells a different story.

As executive vice president of Geiger Group and editor of the world-famous “Farmers’ Almanac,” Geiger has been helping for decades.

He has been involved in many arenas of community and education organizations, including Educate Maine (formerly the Maine Coalition for Excellence in Education). He is vice chairman of the Maine State Board of Education, having previously served a term in the 1990s.

In 1988, Geiger established an Adopt-A-School program with Montello Elementary School in Lewiston and has championed similar business/school partnerships throughout Maine. He has been recognized locally and nationally for the effort he has dedicated to this inspiring program, including being honored as President George H.W. Bush’s “618th Point of Light,” for making a difference in the lives and futures of children.

Since the January 2010 earthquake, Geiger has made several trips to Haiti and raised money to rebuild Bethany School in Port-au-Prince. Most recently, he was named the 2014 recipient of the Promotional Products Association International’s H. Ted Olson Humanitarian Award for his commitment to volunteerism.

Oh, and he cooks in a homeless shelter every month.

Although Caron was named the Peter Geiger START Star for 2016, he never said a word at the Green Ladle gathering. He sat back and joined the others in seeing Geiger fall for the classic bait-and-switch.

A Lewiston native and now a NESN sports broadcaster, Caron saved his talk for a later event at Lewiston Middle School. There, he talked about a variety of topics, from the Patriots and Red Sox to technology and adventures in parenting.

As he’s known to do, Caron showed off his World Series rings and talked about his own transition from Lewiston kid to nationally known broadcaster.

Kids need to dream, he told the group, and to have people who will support them as those dreams are pursued.

“Be there for them,” Caron said. “That’s really what it’s all about. Having someone to talk to can make all the difference.”

Lewiston Middle School announced that New England Sports Network broadcaster and Lewiston High School graduate Tom Caron was named this year’s START Star.

“We are so excited Tom can join us as we celebrate Project START’s 10-year anniversary,” said Billie Jo Brito, Lewiston Middle School teacher and aspiration coordinator. “Tom is one of our hometown heroes. We are so fortunate to have him speak to our students and community about his journey, especially as we celebrate National Mentoring Month.” 

Caron is a NESN broadcaster for the Boston Red Sox, Hockey East and the Beanpot. He graduated from Lewiston High School in 1982 and then from St. Michael’s College in Vermont.

Project START (Steps To Real-Life Transitions) is a Lewiston Middle School Aspirations initiative, initially funded by Peter Geiger and the Lewiston Education Fund.

The goal is to get kids to set goals and make good choices along the way. Every speaker tells a similar story: hard work, getting involved, asking questions and not giving up. 

“Each year, we look for someone who brings a different background,” according to project literature. “We’ve had athletes, sciences, film, small business owner, different educational experiences, and also try to balance male and female Stars.”


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: