Fall 2022 Adaptive Trip – Pete Dern

You might remember Captain Pete Dern’s story from our last Adaptive trip, in January 2020. A few years prior to his trip, Pete was on a roof ventilating a house when it caved in, and he fell directly into the fire. Pete suffered 3rd and 4th degree burns over 70 percent of his body and has undergone almost 90 surgeries since his accident. “The burns were down to the muscle and bone, only my feet and face were spared. The mask melted onto my face and had to be cut off.”

During Pete’s first time at Adaptive, he was fresh out of the hospital and both the mental and physical aspect of recovery was tough. “It was exciting to be around people again, after spending so much time in the hospital. Skiing was a huge part of my life prior, and I thought it was gone forever, but I showed myself I was able to do it.”

In addition to the physical activities, Pete also spoke about the camaraderie and bonding, which cannot be replicated. “This group is a big ol’ brotherhood. Everyone is like minded – we all have our issues, but we are all focused on helping. Nobody can really relate to what we have been through. Some of the best therapy I have had is sitting around the table, talking to these guys.”

While Pete is the “Veteran” of the group this time around; he still knows there is room for growth on his end, and that he can help teach the “rookies.”

“For guys that it is their first time – you have to re-set your brain on what you thought were your limitations. For instance, during this trip, I tried mountain biking for the first time since my injury and it was nerve wracking with all the downhill descents and hand breaking. But I made without crashing!”

Since his last Adaptive trip, Pete has focused on helping others and giving back. “I could not have made it this far without the support of my firefighter family, but also my family, my wife Kelly and my daughter, McKenzie. The Burn Foundation made such an impact on me that my daughter has actually made that a career. She works for the Alisa Ann Burn Foundation, where I volunteer, so my daughter is actually my boss!”