24-hour shift – Firefighter’s day-long run/walk will raise money for Viking Pride, promote fitness

Winthrop firefighter Michael Lopez, with the department just over three years, is making a statement to his adopted home.

He’s here and he wants to help – and not just at the scene of a fire, or car accident, or medical emergency.

“I wanted to do something to help cover the activity/athletic user fees for kids in Winthrop, whose parents can’t afford to pay for their children to play sports or get involved in activities,” said Lopez.

His idea is to run/walk for 24 hours, around the Deer Island loop, in an effort to draw donations and raise awareness about the importance of physical fitness and the role that after-school or extra-curricular activities play in helping to shape the lives of young people.

“I’m not from Winthrop, I’m not even from Massachusetts, and I don’t have any children,” said Lopez. “But I know that I would hope to be able to provide a well-rounded education for them.”

“I feel that organized extra-curricular activities help round out kids,” said Lopez. “It provides them with structure, discipline, teamwork and pride, that cannot be gained in the normal classroom setting. I know that I would not be where I am or have accomplished half as much as I have, if it were not for the days I spent on the playing fields or the life lessons I learned from my many coaches.

Lopez’s drive to help local school children has been adopted by his brethren on the Winthrop Fire Department and the Winthrop Viking Pride Foundation, together they are going to make Lopez’s idea of a 24-hour run/walk around Deer Island a reality.

Beginning at 9 a.m. on May 22 and running until 9 a.m. on May 23, Lopez will begin circling Deer Island as many times as he can, running and walking the entire 24 hours, and he will be supported by his friends and colleagues on the Fire Department and the members of Viking Pride.

“We have already lined up some local business sponsors, who are pledging money for each mile I run or walk,” explained Lopez. “The Winthrop Firefighters Union has taken this cause up and my fellow firefighters will be at the Deer Island throughout the24 hours selling “Get Fit Winthrop” t-shirts for $15 apiece to anyone who wants to come down and support me in this effort.”

Lopez’s goal is to sell 500 t-shirts, as that would allow him to sponsor five youths in each of the fall and spring seasons – for a total of 10 students – next year at Winthrop High School. However, Lopez the Fire Union and the Viking Pride Foundation are also open to accepting donations or additional sponsorships to help him meet his goal as well.

“More than just the money, I am trying to encourage people to come out on that weekend and participate a little themselves,” said Lopez. “Anyone who wants to come down and walk or run with me, or even if they want to ride their bike or rollerblade around to show their support would mean a lot to me. I’d just like to see people be active and help us set a good example for our young people in town."

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