If he were to title the story of what has happened to him over the past 8 years, he’d call it “Full Circle.”
In February, 2002 an 18-year-old young man named Adam from Saco was fortunate to have overcome a rare form of cancer and was granted a Make-A-Wish trip to ski with Shane McConkey at Squaw Valley in Olympic Valley, CA (Lake Tahoe). 12 years later, Adam reflects on the fact that his wish was the impetus for a spectacular friendship with Shane and a personal building block to a practice of giving back to the community.
“I will never forget the incredible adrenaline surge I felt when I first met my skiing hero in front of the Cable Car at Squaw Valley,” said Adam Baillargeon, now 30, of Truckee, CA. “He showed me the ropes as well as introduced me to a venerable ‘who’s who’ of pro skiers. Words like surreal and unbelievable don’t do enough justice to quantify how great it was to ski with Shane.”
Knowing that group of ‘who’s who’ pro skiers helped Adam decide that, when it came time, he’d like to have a career connected to the winter action sports world.
Shane and Adam stayed in touch through the years and Adam visited him and his family in 2004, before he graduated college. Upon graduation in 2007, Shane and Adam exchanged emails and phone calls, which is how Adam learned of an opening at Squaw Valley.
“Shane was not only instrumental in how he motivated me to continue to get healthy once I was in remission from cancer; he also helped me land a job at Squaw Valley and continued to amaze me with random days shared on the mountain,” said Adam.
In March of 2009, Adam’s 39-year-old mentor, Shane, was in a fatal ski accident at the Dolomite Mountains in Italy. On this one tragic day, Adam lost his hero and a great friend.
“My life, like so many others would never be the same. I will be forever honored to have known the man.”
Following this time of devastation felt by Shane’s family and the entire ski community, Adam found an outlet to give back to the world in a way that connected to his passion for skiing. In February of 2009, the High Fives Nonprofit Foundation
was created to raise money and awareness for athletes who have suffered a life-altering injury while pursuing their dream in the winter action sports community and Adam was on board just six months later and is now working for them full time as their Director of Operations.
“For all the good fortune I have had in overcoming cancer, it feels great to be able to give back,” said Adam. “To say that I am stoked is an understatement!"
On February 27, 2010, Baillargeon and the High Fives Non-Profit Foundation together with Biking for a Better World (an Olympic Valley CA based non-profit) held the 2010 Squaw Valley Prom. With just over 500 attendees, it was the best prom to date. Funds raised were split between the two charities with the goal of also donating to Make-A-Wish Maine in the name of Shane McConkey. A check of $1,500 was presented to Sherry McConkey, wife of the late, great ski superstar Shane McConkey. Sherry agreed that it would be an honor to Shane to donate the funds to Make-A-Wish.
Since then, the Shane McConkey Foundation has continued to support Make-A-Wish Maine, donating enough to grant two complete wishes in 2012 ($15,000).
“All of us here at Make-A-Wish Maine commend Adam for the work he is doing through the High Fives Foundation,” said Kate Vickery, Program Director at Make-A-Wish Maine. “We are thrilled and grateful that he and Shane’s family have chosen to donate a portion of the proceeds to our organization on behalf of Shane. He would undoubtedly be very proud of this donation and there is no better way to acknowledge and honor Shane’s memory than to help change someone else’s life. Adam’s story completely exemplifies what we call the power of a wish®!”
“With this possibility becoming a reality, I feel relieved and honored to give back to an organization that has changed my life in every conceivable and positive way! From the trip itself and the strength and energy it gave me, to the life-long connections and friendships from it, I am forever grateful,” said Adam. "Lake Tahoe is amazing and my memories with Shane and my family at Squaw Valley will never be taken from me; they have helped solidify my path into the most fulfilling of lives. Thank you Make-A-Wish and thank you Shane! I strongly encourage anyone curious as to the legend of Shane to check out the Shane McConkey Foundation, order a copy of McConkey the movie and consider supporting the great causes that his wife Sherry continues to support."
He continued, “Shane’s wife Sherry and his daughter, Ayla McConkey are amazingly strong, wonderful people and it is with this donation that they and I hope more people will not only continue to pursue their dreams as Shane inspired me to do, but that they also feel the hope that wishes bring to hearts across America.”
Adam’s parents live in Saco and continue to donate their time to Make-A-Wish as volunteers at events across the state. His mother, Cathy Baillargeon is critical to the success of Saco’s Walk For Wishes®, which is an annual fundraiser held across the state, including at Thornton Academy in May.