Shepaug senior keeps cross-state run alive
Andy Pullaro hasn't given up on his dream.
The Shepaug Valley High School senior, 18, planned to start a run this weekend across Connecticut to fulfill his senior project.
His goal was to raise $5,000 for the Make-A-Wish Foundation by running 13- to 15-mile legs of the 119-mile trek on successive Sundays.
All that changed last week when he dislocated a knee during track practice with the Spartans. He is now unable to run for three months.
Undaunted, Andy decided on an alternate plan.
"If I can get people to run for me, surrogate runners, it can still happen," he said last week.
"Maybe not all runners will be able to do a 13-mile stretch, but I'm hoping to find runners willing to run even a few miles."
Andy's injury came at a devastating time.
Not only was his cross-state run scheduled to start Sunday, Andy had been projected to be a key point-producer for coach Tom Scarola's track team and a threat for individual honors in the Berkshire League and at the state level.
"I still have my college career ahead of me," he said. "But this run is a way to give back to Make-A-Wish for all it's done for our family."
Mr. Pullaro's parents, Joe and Leigh, have adopted several special needs children over the years. When Andy was 6 and his brother, Bryan, was 5, Make-A-Wish gave the entire family of eight a trip to Disney World for six days.
Bryan Pullaro, now 16, has a rare neurological disorder that centers around his upper spine and around his brain.
Having undergone many surgeries, Bryan's condition was still considered life threatening. He was the 500th recipient of the Make-A-Wish program.
"We talked about Andy's passion for running," Mrs. Smith said, "and he decided what better way to draw on his passion and make a difference for a child than through the run."
"Andy wants people to be inspired by what he's doing," she added, "to reach out and translate his passion for running into action on their part."
Spartan girls' track coach Mike Hall was impressed with Andy creativity in keeping the run alive.
"This was Andy's idea (to find other runners) and it's a great idea," Hall said. "He's tremendously talented. In the last two years, he's made tremendous strides."
"His dedication and focus has honed in. He's become a student leader for other runners as well," Hall added. "He's still watching the meets and cheering everyone on."
The cost of fulfilling one Make-A-Wish would be $8,500.
Any amount raised by Andy would go toward meeting goals along an adopt-a-wish path.
When he reaches his goal, "we reach out to a wish family and tell them about Andy," Mrs. Smith said. "The family will take pictures throughout their wish experience and we will present them to Andy."
Runners interested in taking part in the Make-A-Wish fundraising run should call Andy Pullaro at 860-868-9011.The run could begin in early May if enough runners sign on.