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Mineola Resident Kicks Himself Into the Record Books

Raises $5,000 for Celiac Disease in the Process

For the most part, a field goal in football is worth three points, a game winning score or plays second fiddle to scoring a touchdown. For Craig Pinto, it was worth raising over $5,000 for celiac disease, awareness and a place in the Guinness Book of World Records.

Mineola resident Craig Pinto kicked 717 forty-yard field goals in 12 hours on Oct. 10 at Bethpage High School. The previous record was 500, which was an arbitrary number set by Guinness because no one had ever attempted it before.

Pinto set a world record for most field goals kicked within that time frame, but Craig’s focus was to raise money and awareness for celiac disease. Kicking4Celiac was started by Pinto and was born out of the desire to show children and adults alike that living with celiac disease is not terminal.

“With something that has affected me for such a long time, and is so close to my heart, it only makes sense to utilize things I love - kicking and football - to raise money and awareness for my other passion.

“And that is spreading the word and educating people about celiac disease,” said Pinto. “Kicking footballs for this long seems physically challenging, but so is living with celiac disease everyday, and both can be done successfully.”

The Jericho High School graduate was a place-kicker for the New Jersey Revolution of the AFL (Arena Football league) for the past two years, but the team disbanded so Pinto is not sure where he’ll be in the coming season. He started playing soccer in ninth grade and began kicking in his junior and senior year of high school.

“I was completely obsessed with it,” he said. “And then I walked on at Hofstra.”

All proceeds benefited the Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University, the only center in the United States that provides comprehensive medical care, including nutrition, for adult and pediatric patients with celiac disease. Pinto, 32, has had celiac disease for ten years and was first diagnosed while attending Hofstra University. He had to leave school in 1999.

“I played football [at Hofstra] for two years and was diagnosed,” he said. “For me it was a drastic thing as far as my mind and body so making people aware is very important. Celiac disease can have a multiple effect. It can have some mental and physical side effects. I was constantly sick which hurt my team and my studies.”

Craig was also diagnosed with Crohn’s disease at age 12. When he began to get sick at Hofstra, doctors tested him and found celiac. Recently, Pinto graduated NYU last May with a degree in organizational behavior and communications.

Pinto contacted Guinness after he set the record and received a response two weeks ago. He stated that this record would be in the 2012 Guinness Book of World Records since the 2011 version is already on bookstands.

A certificate presentation will take place some time in the coming weeks, according to Pinto. He said that he’s very excited and was happy from the response he has received of his cause.

“It was really great,” he said. “There were a lot of small donations. We got a lot of donations online from places in Europe and all over the country like Arizona and Colorado.”

Pinto currently coaches middle school football in Jericho and is in the masters program at C.W. Post for mental health and school counseling and substitute teaches when he can. To learn more about Pinto’s cause, visit www.kicking4celiac.com.