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Former Ole Miss football player talks to DuBois Area Middle School students

DuBOIS — The chances of Richie Contartesi, who stood just 5 feet 7 inches tall and weighed 150 pounds, reaching his goal of earning a full Division 1 football scholarship at the University of Mississippi (Ole Miss) were slim.

“But there was a small part of me that said, ‘It’s possible,’” Contartesi said while giving motivational advice to students at the DuBois Area Middle School Friday. He achieved his first major goal, earning a full D1 football scholarship at Ole Miss in 2009.

Contartesi went on to become a starter at Ole Miss, played Arena football professionally, wrote a No. 1 bestseller, built a successful speaking and training business, a real estate investment company and opened the only 24/7 functional fitness facility in Las Vegas.

During the assembly, Contartesi shared his struggles with stress, anxiety and depression, recalling his parents’ divorce that resulted in his failing the fifth grade. He went on the internet and looked up the academic requirements to play college football, his childhood dream. That night he had no idea what he was doing but when he printed out those requirements, he had a goal written down, a vision, a plan to succeed, and his life changed forever, he told the students.

“After I wrote out my goal, I started to think differently, I started to talk differently. Things around me started to happen differently,” said Contartesi. “And every single day before I went to school, I just looked at that sheet of paper, and I went to school with a purpose, with a passion, with excitement. I learned how to study. I learned how to build relationships with my teachers. I learned the game of school.”

Contartesi said only 3 percent of Americans write down their goals.

“And these are the same 3 percent who wake up every day excited. Wake up every day with a mission. Wake up every day with a purpose,” he said. “If you learn anything from me today, if you write down your goal, you at least put yourself in the position to be in the top 3 percent. It’s the start.”

Contartesi said if people write down their goals, there’s a 42 percent greater chance of achieving that goal.

“That doesn’t mean writing down your goal and doing nothing,” he said. “There’s action and there’s results.”

It’s not realistic, however, to think people can achieve every single goal they have, he said.

“But here’s truly what it looks like. You have something you want to achieve, you write it down, you have a vision, and you take relentless action after that goal over and over and over again, and you end up somewhere close to it. That’s reality,” Contartesi said.

Contartesi outlined a four-step strategy of turning stressing into success, including building relationships, overcoming fear, building more confidence and getting more educated.

To learn more about Contartesi, visit www.richiecontartesi.com.

Dinosaur hunt brings children to Brockway

BROCKWAY — A hunt through the library for a prehistoric beast brought children and their parents to the Mengle Memorial Library in Brockway last week.

Twenty-nine youngsters brought their families to hunt the dinosaur for an hour and a half in the children’s library in the basement of Mengle Memorial. Brenda Gaffey of the Parents As Teachers Program at The Guidance Center led children through the activities.

Children crawled through “tall grass,” hopped over “lava,” and sloshed through “mud” on their way to a mountain where an inflatable dinosaur waited for them.

The hunt was based on We’re Going on a Bear Hunt by Helen Oxenbury. That book had a child imagining a way through an adventure to find a bear, which was really a cat. Gaffey guided children through the hunt, using their imaginations to enhance the experience.

“It excited me to see the kids coming in,” Mengle Head Librarian Darlene Marshall said. “I know the kids love this stuff, and it’s great to see them having a good time.”

The obstacle course and the story were adapted by Parents As Teachers. Marshall said she enjoys working with the program.

“They’re wonderful,” Marshall said. “They did all this. We had done a bear hunt before, and kids loved it. We repeated it again because the kids loved it. We don’t have to provide staff for them to do this. They just use our library and partner with us. They get excited about kids coming in. And Brenda has a way of telling the story that gets the kids involved.”

Punxsutawney celebrates with Annual Halloween Festival

PUNXSUTAWNEY — The annual Halloween Festival in Punxsutawney moved from the park to the Nomadic Trading Company this year.

All proceeds from the event are donated to the Punxsutawney Radio Emergency Associated Communications Team, REACT.

“They do a lot for our town, so they try to have something going on for them,” Mandi Perry said, one of the event planners.

Michele Lorenzo, also known as “Boo,” has been staging the Halloween Festival for seven years now. Lorenzo is with Punxsutawney Dental, one of the main sponsors for the event, along with some other local businesses. This was the first year the festival was moved indoors.

The festival is free to the public, and aims to bring the community and children together to enjoy Halloween. All the games are free, and everybody wins something.

“Its just a good time to be able to allow them to dress up. We have a Halloween Costume Contest with great prizes,” Perry said.

The contest is broken into several categories to give more children a chance to win. The winners this year were Kal-el Waksmunski for scariest, Falisha and Brayden Campbell for the cutest, Nikolai and Michael Schultheis for the most original, and Paityn, Rohwyn, and Tallyn Thompson and Krew Fillhart won Judge’s Choice.

There were plenty of games for children to play for prizes as well. They had a small ring toss game, a bean bag toss, and a strong man hammer game. Popular Halloween music played all day at one end of the building, drawing children over to dance along.

Lindsey Fire Department brings pink truck for children with cancer

PUNXSUTAWNEY — The Lindsey Fire Company turned pink on Saturday when they surprised two children with cancer with a Pink Truck from the Pink Heals organization.

Firefighter Matt Strouse contacted the Pink Heals group to have a fire truck brought for Lyndsay, 7, and Braden, 11, who are battling cancer.

Pink Heals is an organization that tours the country with pink fire trucks and police cars to raise awareness about breast cancer, or any cancer, and help support the families of those battling cancer. The group supports all types of cancer relief, but has a focus on women as a whole.

Their missions is “to provide the pathway for giving that drives funding solution to individuals and communities in need on a global level,” According to their website. Pink Heals was started in 2007 by Dave Graybill “on the belief that it is the heart of woman that hold families and communities together.”

Fire Fighter Matt Strouse contacted the Slate Belt Chapter of Pink Heals about coming to Punxsutawney to show local families they are not in the fight against cancer alone. This chapter is the closest in the state to Punxsutawney, but still had to travel 300 miles to come.

“I felt like I needed to do something to brighten Lindsay and Braden’s day,” Strouse said.

Strouse found the group in July, and reached out about their making the trip. At the time, the group only had one fire truck, named Margaret, after the chapter founder’s mother-in-law. Each of the fire trucks in the program is named after a woman who has battled cancer. The ride would’ve been hard to make in that truck, but the chapter recently received “Jackie” from a Rhode Island chapter and the new truck was better suited for the long drive.

“I’m in debt to them because they drove this far to do this...,” Strouse said.

Chapter President Eric Aquino, his family, and fire truck driver Robert Rhodes made the 300 mile trip, arriving in Punxsutawney late Friday night.

“This has been our longest trip to date, but they needed someone to come visit, and we were the closest chapter, and we weren’t going to say no to them,” Aquino said.

The group brought gift baskets for the children, and they and their families got a chance to add their names to the trucks. They also donated blankets to survivors and those currently battling cancer.

“It’s to show those two families how much the community is behind them, and they are not battling this struggle alone... We did the easy part, we just drove here. They (the fire department) organized, planned, got hotels to donate rooms for us. They did all the hard part, which is bringing the community together,” Aquino said.

Strouse took about a month to plan the event. Once word got out about it, many community members rallied around to help their fellow neighbors, and show the children how much support they have. He said he feels like he has made two lifelong friends after meeting Aquino and Rhodes.