Paul DiBello Day - March 20,1982
As the television crews recorded the event on film, Paul DiBello of Conway wore the smile of a world champion when he returned from the 1982 World Disabled Ski Championships in Switzerland last Saturday, March 20th, to be greeted with a surprise welcoming home parade by town residents. Donning his four gold medals and victory wreath given to him by two young local girls, the 32-year-old bilateral amputee then rode in a convertible to the Conway IGA where he was presented with a variety of salutations and proclamations.
Conway Selectmen honored the owner of the Saco River Garage by naming Saturday "Paul DiBello Day"; Governor Hugh Gallen and the State Senate sent letters applauding his modesty, humor and courage, and Helen Nute presented Paul with the Town of Conway's flag on behalf of the Gibson Center for Senior Citizens. Paul thanked the two to three hundred persons in attendance for their support, and related one of the lessons he learned from competing with other handicapped skiers in Europe: "Watching everyone giving their best makes you realize that, just because you lose part of yourself doesn't mean that you lose your life," he stated.
Paul later attended the awards ceremony at Mt. Cranmore held to honor the top finishers in the 1982 Junior National I Championships held in the Valley during the week. With the late afternoon sun shining on the brightly colored flags behind the awards stand and the slopes of Mt. Cranmore, Paul addressed the crowd before presenting the awards to the future US Ski Team members after receiving an exuberant welcome and round of applause. In a remark which drew the strongest reaction from the young skiers, Paul said, "I just hope that you all get to experience the thrill like I did of competing for your country. There's nothing quite like it."
The same could be said about the entire day, and the man it honored.
Editor's Note: Paul DiBello passed away in Aurora, Colorado, on April 29, 2020.