The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

August 14, 2013

A Don McCormack column: Katie’s selflessness just great

Sports Editor

Paying another visit to the variety store...

Diving in

When it comes to swimming and raising money for a great cause, it’s Katie bar the door!

As in Katie Petro, that is.

For the second consecutive year, the 13-year-old will be swimming to raise funds to help make the pool at the Ashtabula County YMCA more handicap accessible.

On Sunday, Katie will be doing an individual swim to help raise money for a walkway at the pool.

That’s not all, though. She has bigger things in mind.

“My biggest goal is to be a part of making the entire Y handicap accessible,” Katie said.

Last year, Katie was part of a team effort that helped raise money for a chair lift for the pool at the YMCA.

She has overcome plenty herself, having been diagnosed with a brittle-bone disease.

“I know how it feels, not being able to do something because of a disability,” she said, explaining part of her motivation and reasoning for being so generous with both her time and efforts for those less fortunate. “I don’t want others to experience that feeling, so I will do anything I can to make the Y more handicap accessible.”

Katie pretty much grew up at the pool at the YMCA as she learned to swim there and has been a member of the Y’s swim team for six years.

Her efforts have not gone unnoticed by YMCA officials, including Zach Manuel, program director at the Ashtabula YMCA.

“It’s very inspiring to see the passion for the Y that Katie demonstrates,” he said.

Anyone who wants to make a contribution toward Katie’s selfless efforts can do so by contacting the YMCA at 997-5321.

Mighty midgets

Speaking of good causes, the Street Royalty MC will conduct its second annual Run for the Ashtabula Midget Football League on Sunday.

Jose and Nicole Aponte will be setting up a throng of bike riders and that will coincide with the AMFL’s Community Fun Day at Wenner Field, which will run from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and admission is $1 at the gate along with a non-perishable food item. Those items will be donated by the AMFL to GO Ministries.

Water slides, a petting zoo, vendors, games for children, plenty of food, a cake auction — with each varsity coach, JV Coach and cheerleading advisor making cakes to be auctioned off — along with a DJ, BunkCity, and many more fun things for all the kids and adults in the community will be taking place.

Community agencies will be taking part and each team will have its own carnival booth.

“What a great way to have everyone involved and come together,” AMFL President Kim George said. “This is what it is all about — our community and our kids.”

George had words of praise for everyone involved.

“Jose Aponte and his wife, Nicole, started this last year and it was great,” she said. “Jose’s family supports the youth in our community.

“Leanne Pahkakangas is leading up the Community Day, with the help of Deanna Mercilliott, Stefani Hanna, Shioban Jarvis, Tiffine Burr, Terry Henton, Paul Siler, Stacey McKinney, Patrick Haywood, Judi Faulkerson, Donna Williams, Stephanie Fenton, Stephanie Christian and Amy Burnham.”

The bottom line is crystal clear for George.

“A fun time will be had by all!” she said.

McCormack is the sports editor of the Star Beacon. Reach him at