Apparently 717 field goals in 12 hours weren’t enough for Mineola’s Craig Pinto.
The 33-year-old, who set a Guinness World Record last October with his effort at Bethpage High School’s football field, is training to kick 1,001 40-yard field goals to set a separate record for 24 hours. In the process, he’s raising money in the fight against celiac disease, a condition that can leave people fatigued and weak without a proper diet.
“You think, ‘I can’t be this dominant athlete I want to be,’” said Pinto, whose bouts with lethargy and stomach cramps from the disease forced him to leave the Hofstra football team more than a decade ago. “This [record attempt] shows you can.”
Pinto had a childhood love for soccer, but discovered a new affinity for kicking after trying out for Jericho High School’s football team. Celiac is managed with a gluten-free diet, but Pinto noted that popular carb-loading pregame meals like spaghetti have the common protein. Celiac makes it difficult for the body to break down gluten once ingested.
He said the symptoms and psychological effects of the diagnosis made him feel like he couldn’t play sports anymore. But diet changes eventually allowed him to overcome the setback and even enjoy a two-year stint with the New Jersey Revolution of the American Indoor Football Association from 2008-09.
His love for the game and a desire to help other athletes with the disease have him returning to Bethpage High School’s 30-yard line Oct. 9. Last year his efforts raised $5,000 in donations for the Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. The response for his record was so great he founded Kicking 4 Celiac five months later. This year he is hoping to raise money for the nonprofit’s scholarship program, which will provide college aid to high school graduates with the disease.
“It was kind of a physical struggle,” he said of his feat last year. “I knew it was going to be tough, but at the same time, so is living every day with celiac.”
To donate to Kicking 4 Celiac, visit kicking4celiac.org.
Photo: Craig Pinto, 33, of Mineola is training to kick 1,001 field goals inside 24 hours on Oct. 9. If successful he will set a new Guinness World Record. (Sept. 21, 2011)