Submitted by Armithea “Sissy” Borel
“I want to grow up and participate in the Paralympic games” was not what Mathew Pevoto of Starks might have said when he entered kindergarten at Starks Elementary School. In fact, he really was not happy about the prospect of attending school at all. Just like many other students Peveto didn’t want any attention called to himself. He just wanted to blend in like everyone else, except the fact that he was born with Spina Bifada and wore a brace on his legs and walked on crutches, he probably could have.
Due to the layout of the Jr. High classes, his mom, Shannon, worked with the school to have a lift then an elevator put in so that he could get to the second floor classrooms. Again, he wanted no special attention, so most of the time he took the stairs like everyone else. High School was no different, he managed the stairs.
After graduation from high school, Peveto had no plan, but thought he might like to work for himself, but did not know at what. With some insistence from his mom, he entered college at Lamar State Community College in Orange, Texas, where he became interested in fitness and after 1 1/2 years he started racing. He still wasn’t completely sold on fitness so his major in college was Business.
At that time a friend encouraged him to participate in the Spartan races, which he did from 2013 to 2016. Spartan races which involved running anywhere from four to 15 miles in mud and through obstacles gave him the sense of accomplishment in the challenge. He was the first Adaptive Athlete to run in the Elite Heat which is for athletes with no disabilities.
Peveto attended a clinic at Texas State University in San Marcos, Texas where the coach invited him to become part of their Special Olympic team and sent him home with a borrowed wheel chair to practice with. He started racing and has never looked back. His racing career has been to the Regionals in Texas, Nationals at UCLA, Grand Prix in Arizona and he has run in the Chicago Marathon. To him, it was the challenge of accomplishment in times,mentality and physicality.
He has gone from wondering if he could run one mile to actually running 15 miles. This is not to say that there have not been obstacles. When his studies in Recreational Therapy called for him to work with another student, he struggled. However, working in a focus group and with high risk and special needs students, he found his place as a team leader.
Last year, the track coach from Arizona State University contacted him and asked if he would like to continue his education and become a member of their Wheelchair Track Team. He was just finishing a race that he did not do well in and politely declined. The coach was persistent, he contacted Peveto again, and flew him out to the college for a race and tour of the campus. His answer this time was yes.
He plans to start the next chapter in his life there in the Fall. And now when asked what are your plans?, his answer is “I am preparing to qualify for the Paralympic Games to be held in 2021 or 2024 and we are only limited by our own fears.”
Mathew, we are very proud of you!