Craig Pinto faces the challenges life brings every day, and turns them into opportunities to help others.
The 34-year-old Mineola resident has lived with Crohn's disease for two decades and Celiac Disease for more than 10 years. But the symptoms of both ailments didn’t stop him from breaking the Guinness World Record in field goal kicking, two years in a row.
Crushing his 2010 record of 717 field goals in 12 hours, Pinto kicked 1,000 field goals in 24 hours on Oct. 9 at Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Park.
The stunt was designed to raise money for college scholarships for students with Celiac Disease to offset the costs of their special dietary needs.
Pinto’s success inspired him to have the lyrics “Whatever tomorrow brings, I’ll be there,” from the Incubus song, “Drive,” tattooed on his torso.
“That song was the one that really inspired me, while I was going through tough times as a kid,” Pinto said.
His story caught the attention of TLC, and the network featured him on Thursday night’s episode of “NY Ink”.
“They really loved the inspirational part of the story,” Pinto said.
Pinto’s family and friends gathered Thursday night to watch Pinto relay his story to artist, Chris Torres, as he had his tattoo completed.
“It was really exciting to see [the show],” said Pinto’s sister, Alyssa. “It was an appropriate time for him to get [the tattoo] since he’s come so far.”
Alyssa Pinto sits on the board of her brother’s foundation, Kicking 4 Celiac, which was started in February 2011, five months after he broke his first record.
In less than a year, the organization has already held several fundraisers, including a golf tournament, which raised nearly $3,000 in donations for the Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons.
“To see [the foundation] come from a concept at lunch one day to this in just one year is great,” said Harlan Friedman, a close friend of Pinto’s and vice president of Kicking for Celiac. “Every time Craig connects with a new kid, they know they can follow their dreams like he did, and that’s the best part.”