A Message From Vince Passione and Cherisse Young
Dear ASF Friends,
This past Sunday, the Adaptive Sports Foundation lost Harvey Silverman, a founding board member, longest serving chairman, and one of the biggest champions of the ASF and adaptive sports.
Harvey was all about the ASF mission of empowering lives through adaptive sports. During his 32 years of service, he empowered over 12,000 individuals with disabilities to have 80,000+ adaptive sport experiences and thousands of individuals and organizations to financially support the ASF. In addition to the students, he empowered hundreds of volunteers and staff through his years of leadership as chairman with his personal mantra that they were the backbone of the ASF and were the ones that really made the magic happen for our students.
Harvey and Karen Silverman’s unparalleled generosity for over 30 years is among one of the most transformative demonstrations of philanthropy in the history of the Adaptive Sports Foundation, and his spirit will live on always in the smiles and accomplishments of the ones at ASF he loved the most, the students and the volunteers.
As a tribute to Harvey’s legacy at the Adaptive Sports Foundation I contacted Cherisse Young, our former ASF executive director who worked with Harvey during most of his tenure as chair.
Here is her reflection on Harvey’s legacy:
In the winter of 1990, Harvey Silverman was invited by ASF founder, Gwen Allard, to participate in a meeting of influential community and business leaders who skied at Ski Windham. The purpose of the meeting was to form the Disabled Skiing Advisory Council for the Disabled Ski Program at Ski Windham. Little did Harvey know that during that meeting, he would become not only the first Chairman of the Council, but also one of the key founding figures in what we now know as the Adaptive Sports Foundation. Years later, Harvey would humbly recount that first meeting and his appointment to Chairman as, “I was the first Chairman because I talked the most at that first meeting.” However, fate knew that Harvey knew the way for the organization and the thousands of individuals with disabilities that would be served.
Under Harvey’s keen and conservative leadership, the organization went from a satellite program of the Professional Ski Instructors of America – Eastern Education Foundation to its own independent organization under the name the Adaptive Sports Foundation. He nurtured Gwen Allard’s, ASF’s Founder and first Executive Director, vision of providing lifetime sports to people with disabilities. Gwen had the vision and Harvey knew how to get there. Harvey knew that if the ASF was going to thrive it needed a strong financial base. He set up the first reserve fund for the ASF. Under his guidance it grew from an initial $25,000 to over $1 million today. He worked tirelessly with Dan Frank of Ski Windham, and other key community leaders, to locate slope side land and to build Allard’s vision of an adaptive sports center where hundreds of volunteer instructors and adaptive skiers and snowboarders would came each season to Windham. In August of 2004, he put the ceremonial shovel in the ground that begin construction of the 8,000-square foot Gwen Allard Adaptive Sports Center. On the day of the ground-breaking, Harvey announced he and his wife Karen would make one of the two largest leadership gifts of $500,000 to the building’s capital fundraising campaign.
After, the Center opened in 2005, Harvey oversaw the establishment of the ASF’s first endowment of $1.2 million whose proceeds help underwrite the annual expenses of the Gwen Allard Adaptive Sports Center. And in 2005 when our nation’s servicemen and women began to come home from the War on Terror with severe and life changing injuries, it was Harvey, in partnership with fellow board members Bob Stubbs and Jim Barnes, who said, “bring those wounded warriors to Windham – we will teach them how to ski and help them begin to heal. We will personally make sure the funding is available to bring our heroes here to the ASF.”
Despite all of Harvey’s many accomplishments during his 30 year tenure with the ASF, his greatest joy was seeing the smiles on the students and volunteers. He loved coming down to the Adaptive Sports Center on a Saturday to see all the families enjoying their time at Windham, sitting with the wounded warriors at the annual Wounded Warrior Learn to Ski and Ride event, or cooking hamburgers for the volunteers at the Ralph Hartman Race which took place in front of his house on Windham Mountain each year. He often said, “I get the greatest joy watching all the adaptive skiers and riders going by my house on Whiteway.” All Harvey ever wanted to do was to simply share his love of skiing and Windham Mountain with those who might not have had the opportunity if it wasn’t for the programs at ASF.
For the past 30 years, Harvey saw a vision of what the ASF could be, he knew the way and showed us all how to get there. Through his unprecedented level of philanthropy, his leadership and hard work, he empowered thousands of adaptive athletes, families, volunteers, and staff. His legacy will live on forever each time an individual with disabilities and their family drives up Silverman Way to the Gwen Allard Adaptive Sports Center with anticipation knowing they are going to enjoy the slopes of Windham Mountain.
Our thoughts and prayers are with Harvey’s wife Karen and his family. To honor Harvey’s memory, the family has requested donations to be made to the ASF in his memory.
Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Adaptive Sports Foundation