Archery Saved My Life

A crowd gathers as Babette Peyton, sitting in her wheelchair, stares down at the target 50 yards away. Holding a compound bow with her right hand, a spotter places the nock of an arrow onto the string. She squints through the sight, sets her jaw firm, grabs the string, with her teeth, to slowly draw it back…Yup, with her teeth. Her eyes stay laser-focused on the bulls-eye down range; her jaw clamped down on a small piece of leather…42 lbs. of pressure with her teeth. Just a few more moments of concentration, then release. The arrow soars toward the target coming to a sudden halt inside the yellow. Another bulls-eye.

“In fall 2010, I was living in a nursing home,” said Babette, an Army Veteran and Chicago native. “They wanted to place me into hospice care. I said, isn’t that where people go to die? They said, not necessarily, but I still didn’t want to go.”

Friends, recognizing her depression, convinced her to attend a sports clinic in Newport, Rhode Island, put on by Paralympians. She attended somewhat reluctantly. It was an Archery camp.

“I was sitting on the sidelines, when this Paralympian Kevin Stone looked over,” remembered Babette. “He said to me, ‘no one comes to my clinic and sits on the sidelines.’ He talked me into trying archery. I hit the target the first time. I said, ‘I did that.’”

Did that she did, and that was just the beginning.

“I never went into hospice,” said Babette. “I got motivated about archery and life. I got involved with the local Vet Center, Disabled and homeless Veterans, helping them to find jobs and housing. You know, Veterans helping Veterans, then letting others help us.  All you need is to be young at heart.”

After attending the National Veterans Summer Sports Clinic in San Diego in September 2011, Babette set her sights on a new goal—to be a Paralympian herself.

“I enjoyed competing,” she said smiling. “I attended an archery competition in December and then entered national and international competitions every month since leading up to the Wheelchair Games here in Richmond. I’ve even placed in a few of the competitions.”

These days, if Babette isn’t helping her fellow Veterans find work or an apartment, she’ll be on an archery range in Chicago practicing her craft 4-5 times a week. She’s easy to spot too. She starts every conversation with a huge smile and ends it by saying, ‘I love you.’

“I finally realized that I’m not going out of this world,” she exclaimed. “I’m just coming in.”

Jim Theres is a Public Affairs Officer at the G.V. (Sonny Montgomery) VA Medical Center.

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13 Comments to “Archery Saved My Life”

  1. Spirited and Most Challenging, BZ

    • Paula Berger says:

      Nice artilce James. Babette sounds wonderful. I cold feel the love.

    • Dwight Claiborne says:

      Ms Babette , seems to be a pure joy , I myself am not disabled to the point of being in a wheelchair , however I find her simply amazing and inspiring as well. I am presently and unemployed veteran volunteering at the VAMC in Baltimore seeking to become part of the staff in the near future. Ms Babette I just wanted to say to you though we never met personally ” I LOVE YOU TOO ” for being all that you can be and much much more. A trillion thank you and I look forward to you winning the gold although your set the bar high with superior ” GOLD STANDARDS”. Thanks again and God Bless you forever.

    • Michelle says:

      You go Girl!!!! Congrats to a super olympian and from our home VA

    • Bob Bousquet says:

      Ahoy Babette…May The Good Lord bless keep you & your shining example to others afflicted…& thank you for serving our great nation…Bob Bousquet….

  2. John Martin says:

    What a wonderful story, Babette is a marvelous example of living her life to the fullest whilest helping others and in so helping herself all the more. I am a disabled vet as well and I am a paid soloist in my church. I’ve always loved singing but many assumed I couldn’t continue after being placed on oxygen. But with my cane and oxygen tank I still perform my job and love it even more! I am also the Lay Leader in my church and do my best to help those in need.

  3. LT J. Mackey says:

    This is an awesome example of intestinal fortitude and the American spirit. As a country we all need to follow Babette’s example. I love archery as well, I hunt and practice often, but I can not imagine how hard it would be to have to be limited to shooting with my mouth. Babette is a patriot and inspiration to all of us. Be thankful for your station in life and for all that God has given you.

  4. Jordan Schupbach says:

    Great article, Jim. Thanks.

  5. Jim says:

    Motivational! Keep this up Mr. Theres

  6. Sandy in Racine says:

    Great story Jimmy T! What an awesome comeback she made and what a profound difference she is making in others lives…

  7. MSgt (Ret) Jay Forrest says:

    Babette, I want you to know that you are a truly inspirational person. Not only the fact that you’re out there competing in events such as this but because you are out there helping other people that are just like you, veterans! I am a veteran myself and wish I had the motivation (and time) to help others just as you are. Keep up the good work…oh, and I Love You! (great way to end a sentence every time…)…you are truly one of the best!!!

    • Lin says:

      Great article. Ms. Babette is an inspiration. The words “I love you” sometimes is what we may need and lack hearing. Those words bring out the best in all of us and reminds us that someone does care! Thank you, Ms. Babette.

  8. COL (RET) H. James Young says:

    Babette Peyton is an outstanding and good hearted person. I know her professionally and personally. She is a ‘can do’ person in spite of difficulties and/or challenges. She is goal oriented, motivated and motivator, never a quitter at anything in her life or the path of life she moves along. A very kind spirited individual with the concerns of helping others, veterans and non-veterans alike. A great Ambassador! She is focused and poised with any task at hand, and has taken the position in life to not let her challenges overcome her, but to overcome her challenges. Success, grace, and kindness is very illustrative of Babette. May God continue to Bless her in every endeavor. Whoooaaa!