-By Joseph Domelowicz
For the Transcript
Winthrop firefighter and paramedic Michael Lopez, who last year spearheaded a push to help promote physical fitness in Winthrop and raise money for the Viking Pride Foundation by running around Deer Island for 24 hours straight, has announced that he intends to undertake the 24-hour challenge again this year, beginning at 9 a.m. on Saturday, May 21 and ending at 9 a.m. on Sunday, May 22.
“When I got out of the military I moved to Winthrop and the community opened its arms to me and become home,” said Lopez. “I am honored and privileged to be a Winthrop firefighter and a paramedic with Action Ambulance and to give back to this community everyday.”
Lopez said that the attempt at a 24-hour run is another way for him to give back to the community he has adopted as his home.
“ Before I was a firefighter and paramedic, I was a member of the Navy, as part of Naval Special Warfare for six and a half years. You might say physical fitness has always been a way of life for me, both at work and at home,“ he explained. “I have two different careers, both requiring me to be physically fit, as well as handle a great deal of stress. What better way to relive stress than through fitness?”
When Lopez completed his 24 hour endurance run around Deer Island last year he had logged 92 miles and raised more than $10,000 for Viking Pride, which was used to support after-school and extra-curricular activities for Winthrop youth.
“With the money we raised last year, we were able to sponsor 10 families throughout the 2010 school year to help put their kids in after school activities. This meant we were able to keep these kids off the streets and put them into an organized school programs.”
The remainder of the funds will be rolled over to the 2011-2012 season again to help assist families in need.
“This year, beginning at 9 a.m. on May 21 , I will again circle Deer Island as many times as I can, running, walking, crawling if I have to the entire 24 hours, with the goal of getting to 100 miles in that period, and raising more money for the Viking Pride,“ said Lopez. “And will be supported by my friends, family, brothers of the Fire Department, co-workers of Action Ambulance, and members of the Viking Pride Foundation. My ultimate goal is to raise enough money to eliminate school activity fees all together.”
To help in this effort, Lopez and his supporters will be selling Fire Department “Get Fit Winthrop” t-shirts and collecting donations during the event.
T- Shirts are $15 dollars apiece and have been donated by Winthrop Firefighters union Local 1070, as well as Elite Embroidery, allowing 100% of sales collected to go directly to the Viking Pride Foundation. Also further donations and sponsorships are greatly appreciated.
“More than just the money, I am trying to encourage people to come out on that weekend and participate a little themselves. Anyone who wants to come down and walk or run with me, or even if they want to ride their bike / rollerblade around to show their support, it would mean a lot to me. I’d just like to see people being active and helping us set a good example for our young people in town.”
Lopez also said that as a new part of the Get Fit Winthrop challenge, locally operated fitness gym RPM Fitness on Banks Street is offering classes during the two-days and all proceeds from those classes will also be donated to Viking Pride.
“Marie Hamilton at RPM Fitness is the person people can talk to about the challenge and you can also buy the t-shorts there,” he said.