Donato Entering Northeastern Chapter of Hall of Fame

By Steve Svetovich

Anthony Donato is among a group of 10 individuals being inducted to the Northeastern chapter of the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame.

The elite 10 will be inducted during the 33rd annual Induction Ceremonial Sunday, Oct. 4, at 5 p.m. in the DeNaples Center at the University of Scranton. Donato is being inducted as a football and track coach.

At Dunmore High School, Donato was a UPI All-State wide-receiver in 1971. He was a Scranton Times All-Regional and All-Scholastic wide receiver. He was the Scranton Times athlete of the week for track and was the conference scoring champion in 1972. He earned a PA Conference championship at East Stroudsburg and was inducted into the East Stroudsburg University Hall of Fame in 2014.

He spent five years as an assistant football coach at Dunmore High School and 13 years at North Pocono High School. He led Abington Heights to its first Big 11 football title during his two years there as head coach. In his six years at North Pocono, he won both the Lackawanna League and Eastern Conference football titles.

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The other inductees include Ed Bugno, James Burock, Wayne Lydon, Heather Gallagher Raley, Kathleen Klein Prindle, Cal Urso, Greg Legg and Bob Gilbride. Scranton Times sports writer Marty Myers will receive the Service Award.

Ed Bugno is being inducted for football. The West Scranton graduate received the James “Hookey” Reap award twice. He was an All-Scholastic wide receiver in 1975 and was the first receiver in NEPA to be named first-team All-State receiver by the UPI and AP in 1975. Bungo was first-team All-Scholastic in football, baseball and basketball. He was PSAC All-Conference second-team in 1976 and 1977 and first-team in 1978 and 1979 as a wide receiver at Bloomsburg.

James Burock is going in for baseball. He was undefeated for three years with 21-0 record as a pitcher for Valley View High School. He was first-team All-State and All-Conference and Regional Player of the Year in 2000 and All Regional in 2000 and 2001. Burock was a Heisman finalist and four-year starter at Old Dominion where he was All-Conference 2002-05. He was ESPN Academic All-American, All-State Academic and was drafted by both the Cleveland Indians and Colorado Rockies.

Cal Urso is receiving the honor for his performance as a baseball coach. He played basketball for Throop High School where he was the Northern Division leading scorer in 1969. He was an All-Regional selection. Urso was baseball coach for 32 years at Mid Valley High a School where he recorded 321 wins and won three Lackawanna League titles, 10 Northern Division titles and three District 2 AA baseball titles.

Wayne Lydon is being recognized for his performance as a baseball, track and football star. He is one of the fastest athletes to ever come out of this area. He was All-State and All Regional and a defensive player of the year as a defensive back for Valley View High School in 1998. He was a district track winner in the 100 and 200 meters and state qualifier in the 200 meters. Lydon was drafted by the New York Mets in the ninth round in 1999. He made five all-star teams from A to AAA ball to the Independent League. He batted .263 and stole 595 bases in his 13-year minor league career. He was a part of three league title teams in the minors for the Mets. He was on the Mets 40-man roster two years and was called up once. His time with the Mets lasted one day as he was sent down when Cliff Floyd came off the disabled list. He stole 87 bases in 2002. That was one short of leading the entire minor leagues. Lydon was named Baseball America’s best base runner three times.

Greg Legg is going in for baseball. Legg played six years with the Scranton Wilkes-Barre Red Barons. He is the only player to have his number retired. He played parts of two seasons with the Philadelphia Phillies compiling a .409 batting average during his short stays. He has been in the Phillies organization for 33 years, 13 as a player and 20 as a coach or manager. Legg has coached or managed at Lakewood, Reading and Allentown and currently manages the Clearwater Threshers. He holds a fundraising dinner each year in NEPA to raise scholarship funds for local athletes.

Heather Gallagher Raley earned her spot in the Hall of Fame for swimming. She was a record holder in seven of 10 events. She was a two-time district champion in the 100-meter freestyle and in 1999 won the District 2 title in the 100-meter butterfly. She earned a spot the PIAA states in 1998 and 1999. At Gettysburg, she was an All-American in 2001 and 2002. She holds the record in the 100 free and 400-meter medley relay and was captain as a senior. Raley was twice Academic All-American, six times Conference Centennial Academic Honor Roll and eight times Conference Centennial All-American selection.

Kathleen Klein Prindle will enter the hall as a coach and swimmer. She was a four-year letterman at Scranton Prep and was inspired by her grandmother Julie Holleran Igoe, a 1983 Hall inductee. She trained elite swimmers in 17 countries for the Olympic Games, USA Senior/Junior Nationals, Commonwealth Games and multiple International championships. She was three times a US Olympics Trials coach preparing eight athletes in 2008 Beijing games resulting in two Olympic winners. Prindle founded Learn-to-Swim programs in NEPA, Florida and New Jersey and made 11 straight state championship appearances as a South Florida high school swimming coach.

The late Bob Gilbride is being honored as a coach. He won 168 games, including five division titles and one Diocesan title, as basketball coach at Holy Rosary High School. He was five Lackawanna League Southern Division titles and 14 Lackawanna League divisional titles as basketball coach at Scranton Central High School where he compiled 481 wins. Gilbride won five Lackawanna League titles, nine Southern Division titles, 11 Class AA titles and two district titles as the baseball coach at Scranton Central. He won titles in parts of four decades from the 60’s through the 90’s.

Finally, Marty Myers spent 10 years as a sports reporter and editor for the Wayne Independent in Honesdale. He has been a sports reporter for the Scranton Times for over 20 years. He was inducted into the Wayne County Sports Hall of Fame in 2010. He received the PIAA District 2 McGladric Award for contributions to high school sports through journalism.

Tickets for the event are $40. Contact Bob Walsh  at (570) 346-2228, Jerry Valonis at (570) 498-9461, or Alice Foley  at (570) 346-5796. For advertisements, contact Tom Dougherty (570) 346-9991.

Dunmorean of the Month: Caroline Azzarelli

By Emily Fedor

Caroline Azzarelli

Caroline Azzarelli currently has stage give kidney disease and does public speaking to educate other on the importance of organ donation. Photo Credit: Emily Fedor/The Dunmorean

Caroline Azzarelli has a set of markings on her left wrist that she gets a lot of questions about.

“Somebody asked me the other day, ‘Did a dog bite you?’ I used to be like, ‘Oh, I just cut myself,’ but now I’m at the point where I’m just like, ‘I need a kidney transplant. Do you know anyone?’”

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For practically her entire life, 24-year-old Caroline Azzarelli has been facing a battle that could knock down the spirits of some of the strongest people. She faces her rough days, but somehow Caroline manages to stay positive—taking the cards she was given with grace and a laugh.

The daughter of Carolyn  and James Azzarelli, Caroline had her right kidney removed when she was only six years old after it was damaged due to a case of reflux.

“You can totally live with one kidney, said Caroline. “You’ll be fine for the rest of your life and not have any issues. I pretty much lived my whole life not thinking there was anything wrong with me.”

Then in 2009, when Caroline was an 18-year-old high school senior, she began to lose her hair and was fatigued more often than not. That’s when her doctors discovered a nodule on her thyroid. She was sent for rounds of pre-op testing before having the nodule removed, but her test results revealed that her kidney function wasn’t on par.

From there, Caroline was sent to a Dr. Henry Yeager, M.D., a kidney specialist or nephrologist, who had to deliver some unexpected news to the Azzarellis: Caroline was in stage three of kidney disease. She was set to graduate from Holy Cross High School about a month later.

Caroline’s mother, Carolyn, admits that she and the rest of the family were devastated when they received the news.

“It was awful,” said Carolyn. “It was two weeks before the prom, and they were talking about renal failure and eventually needing dialysis and a transplant. They said ‘We don’t know how fast her kidney is failing, but it’s failing.’”

A healthy person with two kidneys starts with a GFR (glomerular filtration rate) of 100 percent—a sign of perfect kidney function. With one of her kidneys already removed, Caroline’s GFR could only be 50 percent at best. At this point in time, it was around 38 percent.

Caroline started out visiting Dr. Yeager once a year, then once every six months, and then once a month as her condition progressively took a turn for the worse.

In December of 2012, Caroline was a senior at Misericordia University, pursuing studies in social work, when she found out she had reached the fourth stage of the disease Then a few months later in May of 2013, she progressed to stage five. (The GFR of stage five patients is between zero and 15 percent.)

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Today, Caroline’s GFR is about 7 percent, and as of July 22, she has been undergoing dialysis, which her mother refers to as “a bump in the road of life,” for one year. She goes to three-hour appointments three days a week at the DaVita Moses Taylor Hospital Renal Unit in Scranton, where she’s the youngest patient and is affectionately known by her nurses as “the kid.” Additionally, Caroline has been on a transplant list since March of 2014—patiently but eagerly waiting for a new kidney.

“Every day, you just wake up and pray that today’s the day”, said Caroline’s mother. “We cry together, We laugh together, We joke together and try to make the best of it, but it’s not easy.”

But even with all the trials she faces, Caroline never thinks about giving up—instead she chooses to stay positive and keep pushing herself . And recently, she’s taken a another step in the right direction in the form of public speaking to help teach others about the importance of being an organ donor.

When Caroline was attending high school at Holy Cross, she was a member of the Pennsylvania Association of Student Councils and at one point served as treasurer of the district council.

In March of this year, Edrene Wright, PASC District 9 Director, was in the midst of planning an event concerning organ donation for members of the PASC. She remembered reading an article about Caroline that appeared in the Scranton Times back in September and contacted her to see if she would be willing to speak at the event.

Caroline immediately accepted and ended up speaking to over 700 people—sharing her story and emphasizing how important it is for people to be organ donors. Now she frequently is part of a panel of speakers who discuss organ donation through the Gift of Life.

“I think this is something that people need to realize is not just happening to their grandparents,” said Caroline. “It’s happening to a lot of younger people these days. Kidney disease is something very serious, and you should be an organ donor to save lives like me. Education is something that needs to happen.”

And on top of all that, Caroline is employed at Tressler Law LLC in Scranton and Best Buy in Dickson City.

She finds inspiration in her family and friends as well as the nurses and the staff at her dialysis unit at Moses Taylor, which is unfortunately closing near the end of this year.

“We’re very proud of her,” said Caroline’s mother. “She’s doing an amazing job with the job she’s been given.”

Caroline says that her support system is “beyond words” and that without them, she doesn’t know what she’d do. But at the end of the day, there’s one other thing that really motivates her to keep moving, and that’s her lust for life—her desire to live.

“One thing for me is that I have to keep reminding myself, ‘What is the alternative?’ If it’s not this, it’s death, and I really don’t want to do that. I’m 24. I still have a whole life to life.”