Unsung hero: Dick Sigerest loves to ski and loves kids
When Dick Sigerest read an ad in the paper seeking volunteers for the Douglas County Recreation Department, he immediately knew it was the right thing for him to do.
The recreation department was looking for ski club volunteers. Sigerest had been skiing for 50 years. It seemed like the perfect match.
“I love kids and I love to ski,” said Sigerest. “I don’t have any grandkids, so I borrow them from other parents. What’s better than skiing with a group of kids for a day?”
Sigerest applied. The recreation department liked that Sigerest was trained in first aid and was a ski patrol volunteer, and he has been a volunteer with the Learn to Ski Program for five years.
“I am probably one of the biggest advocates of the recreation department’s ski program, because skiing is a healthy outdoor activity and is tons of fun. The program, with lessons and supervised skiing, is probably one of the best around.”
Sigerest paused for a moment. “And if it wasn’t for the ski program, I couldn’t be such a great guy.”
Sigerest grew up in the Lower Hudson Valley of New York, where he met “my beautiful Barbara,” his wife of almost 45 years. After a stint with the Army, where he trained an “over snow movement” division for two years, he returned to New York and continued his lifelong passion of skiing while he worked as an aerospace engineer.
He also became involved in another passion, first aid and medical assistance. First aid courses were part of his ski patrol training, but Sigerest wanted more. He volunteered with emergency medical assistance and trained to be an EMT. Sigerest also chaired an emergency service board and served on the board of a seven-county consortium of emergency services agencies.
Sigerest’s son Richard was born in New York, and daughter Lisa was born after a move to California. Richard was the skier of his two children and later volunteered on the ski patrol with his father.
“Richard now produces television commercials in California, and Lisa lives in Dayton, where she raises registered Morgan horses,” said Sigerest.
After the move to California, where Sigerest moved onto aerospace marketing, he became more involved with emergency medical services. He earned his ALS (advanced life support) certificate, campaigned for an enhanced 911 system and helped form a subscription ambulance service in the Ventura area.
“There is a big voice in my head that says, ‘volunteer,'” said Sigerest. “But emergency medical services is something I feel strongly about. It’s easy to volunteer when you have a personal commitment.”
Sigerest wants quality emergency services in Douglas County as well, his home for the past 10 years.
“The county already has enhanced 911, a service where if a person hangs up, the 911 operator is still connected with the phone number,” said Sigerest. “But things I’d like to see for Douglas County are subscription ambulance, Vial of Life through 911 that stores medical alert information about the patients and external electronic defibrillators. This is my avocation right now.”
Sigerest recently accepted a job with the senior center as a driver. He spends 40 hours a week providing transportation for seniors throughout the county.
“It’s a paid job, but one that I would do anyhow, because not everyone is fortunate enough to have transportation or the medical health to drive,” said Sigerest.
A full-time job isn’t slowing Sigerest. Even though he is 67 years old, he is still on the ski slopes with the kids every Sunday, he is still working to bring the best emergency medical services to the Carson Valley and he says he is still deeply in love with his wife.
“I don’t just volunteer because I have nothing else to do, I get involved because I feel that I can make a difference. And I like to wear all the patches,” said Sigerest as he watched clouds build over the Sierra Nevada.
“Looks like it could snow,” he said as a smile tipped the corners of his mouth. “That’s good. Good for skiing and good for the kids.”
Find out more about the 2001 Learn to Ski Program by contacting:
Douglas County Parks and Recreation Department
1327 Waterloo Lane
Gardnerville, NV 89410
Fee: $48 per day includes transportation, ski or snowboard rental, 2-hour lesson, lift ticket and partially supervised group skiing.