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Invincible Kidz in Grand Cayman

April 24, 2012

While in Grand Cayman for a speaking engagement I had the wonderful opportunity to meet two Invincible Kids and future Pittsburgh All-Stars.

Invincible Kids

We would like to feature photos of children of all ages wearing #83 or anything related to Vince Papale. We would also like to feature any book reports that kids have written after reading Vince’s book. If you have a photo or book report you would like to share with the world (and Vince), please email it to:

Whoozenuts@comcast.net

Thanks in advance for sharing and be sure to have an Invincible 2012!

By emailing photos or book reports to vincepapale.com, you are granting permission to Vince Papale Promotions, LLC to feature the photos or reports on this website.

Matthew Patino-  San Antonio, TX

Matthew was diagnosed with osteosarcoma on april 4, 2007 at the age  of 14 yrs old. He underwent chemotherpy for 9 months and ended Jan.2008. He has been in remission for 2 years. He played football and his position was kick-off and wide reciever and also ran track in his freshman and in his sophomore year in high school. Currently he just finished track season.

Joey Allegretti. Chicago, IL

Joey Allegretti: A story of inspiration
East freshman serves as a beacon of hope to family, friends

by Sam Story
November 05, 2008

Being a state champion.

It’s something every high school freshman athlete dreams to become. Whether it be tennis, volleyball, football or track, everyone wants to be the best.

For a certain Lincoln-Way East freshman, the dream remains the same. It’s how he’s gotten to this point that is unbelievable.

Joey Allegretti may be as normal as a kid can come.

“I like watching sports, going to sports, hanging out with my friends and playing video games,” said the Griffin freshman in a made-for-normalcy answer.

What separates Allegretti from any other kid, is what he’s been through in his life already. And, he’s only 15.

In early 2007, Allegretti was diagnosed with Leukemia.

None of it made any sense.

Allegretti was a straight-A student who was even more dominating on the wrestling mats than he was in the classroom.

“I was living a dad’s dream,” said Carl Allegretti, Joey’s father. “I had both of my kids (son Nick included) ranked number one in their weight class in junior high. After I heard the news, I kept telling myself ‘you’ve got to be kidding me.’ It didn’t make any sense as we just thought it was breathing trouble.”

Fast forward through months of tears, chemotherapy and more questioning as to “why him?” Carl and Tammy Allegretti saw what kind of inspiration their son had become.

Nick Allegretti, Joey’s younger brother, is a standout wrestler in his own right. Along with his older brother, he was a member of the Vittum Cats wrestling team, a club wrestling team based in the Chicagoland area. When Joey was sick and going through treatment, thus forcing him to miss the entire season, Nick devoted himself and his 2007 wrestling campaign to his older brother.

What happened was pure magic: Nick went undefeated the entire season and didn’t give up a single point.

“That was hard to put into words,” said Joey, who is preparing for this season in the “heavyweight” division at East. “It was special. Obviously I was not too happy about not being able to wrestle. I went to every meet and encouraged him. I got to watch him all year when he won the state championship.”

After Joey was done sitting out the 2007 season, he was prepared to battle any and everything that stood in his way in the 2008 season.

That was to be a magical season indeed: Joey was the state and national champion in his division, garnering the Outstanding Wrestler award in the national tournament.

There was a moment that stuck out to his mother, one that she said was one of those “Oh my God!” moments in a persons life.

“We were in the nationals and he is wrestling this kid from Oregon. The kid is huge. Like 6’4 and about 270 (pounds). Joey weighed 220. The father of this boy is around us and he asks who our boy was. So, I pointed to him (Joey) and said ‘that’s him.’ The dad of this other kid snickers a little bit about his size and wonders why he is in the heavyweight division. Joey starts wrestling this kid and his determination was … incredible. They get to the third period and he pins him (thus giving him the Outstanding Wrestling Award) and I remember looking across the mat at the boy’s dad and his jaw had just dropped.”

Joey talked about what it was like to put in all of the work and become the state and national champion.

“I worked for two years to rebuild myself. I worked hard with tons of different coaches. After that, it felt all the work I did and dreamed of was put together at the same moment. A real feeling of achievement that I overcame so many obstacles. Even sick, I was at practice working hard.”

That display of character and hard work has been a constant.

That remained so even through July of 2008, when tragedy struck again.

Allegretti, who had won a starting spot as an offensive guard for the Griffin sophomore football team, tore up his knee in summer practice.

“Joe is a remarkable kid. He has absolutely gained the respect and admiration of his team and his coaches by the way that, even though he has gone through so much of adversity (treatments and now his knee), he remains very passionate and committed to his family, his school, and athletics,” said Dave Pammer, Joey’s head coach on the sophomore team. “His teammates see his passion and dedication to our program, and I believe it has done a lot in helping them through adversity in their lives, both on and off the field.”

Joey Allegretti, through all that he has been through, has “matured beyond his years”, according to his mother, Tammy. None of it was lost on Joey, either.

“I just think that overcoming the obstacles I overcame, when they (teammates) have things going wrong (injury, something maybe ‘minor’) it makes it easier for them to put that into perspective that it isn’t that big of a deal to overcome.”

Joey’s hard work has continued to payoff. He’s gained weight and is back to lifting 265 pounds on the bench press. His chemotherapy sessions are on Mondays and, according to father, Carl, only has “14 months left to go!”

Joey’s wrestling season will be underway shortly as he is pining for a spot on the JV squad at the heavyweight level. The varsity heavyweight spot belongs to Griffin senior Chris Narel. Narel, who finished third in the state last year, has built a “special” bond with Joey, according to elder Allegretti.

According to Carl, Narel came to Vittum to help train with Joey last year and Joey repaid him by going downstate to watch him come in third in the state meet. The freshman serves as an “inspiration” to the senior.

“Three years of varsity wrestling should give me enough time to win the state championship,” according to Joey.

Everyone is pulling for him.