Sixteen-year-old Andrew Haraghey is everything a parent could wish for: a National Honors Society student, an accomplished percussionist and a gold medal winner. That's right, gold medal winner — five times over, in fact.
The young alpine skier is coming off his most successful season on the slopes yet, according to a Masslive.com report, and he's doing it in the face of adversity and in spite of what some doctors told him.
Haraghey is an adaptive skier with cerebral palsy, in whom dreams of representing the United States in Russia at the 2014 Paralympics have been cultivated through years of hard work.
Nevermind attempting to become a member of the U.S. Paralympic team, Haraghey recalls a time when he heard doctors doubt his ability to walk or function at the level he currently does.
Skiing wasn't second nature for the Enrico Fermi High School (Enfield); quite the contrary. "He was terrible," Sheryl Haraghey, Andrew's mother, said frankly, explaining that years of practice, dedication and a passion for the sport have gotten him to where he is today.
"When you watch him walk, he struggles," Sheryl Haraghey said, "but when he skiis, you can't notice a thing."
Yes, Andrew is good, but it's the feeling he gets that keeps him going.
"It means independence, freedom, something I wouldn't [otherwise] be able to do," he said.
When he began skiing at the age of seven, Andrew, unable to make turns on his own, held on to a pole in his mother's hands as they took swooping s-turns down bunny slopes.
He saw his brother pick up the sport quickly, and frustration set in, but three years later, at the age of 10, Andrew began to make turns on his own and he's never looked back.
He's proven to be a talented competitive racer, and he's inspired many along the way.
"I'm amazed at how he touches people," said Sheryl. "We got a call from a man in Texas who is 49 and has cerebral palsy — He had never skied, but wants to do it after seeing Andrew."
Andrew hopes to continue to inspire many and represent his country in the 2014 Paralympics in Russia.
The trip is an expensive one, including the training that goes along with it.
Currently, Haraghey has been raising money for equipment and to fund trips to Colorado where his coach will work with him to decrease his race time.
"It makes me feel like I'm doing something really good — representing my country. I'll be doing something doctors thought I wouldn't be able to do."
For the past couple of years, Windsor's Brown's Harvest has raised money for Andrew, and continues to do so this year.
With Pumpkins for Andrew, Brown's Harvest patrons can contribute to Andrew's dreams by purchasing a hand-decorated pumpkin. The pumpkins are decorated with paint, feathers, glitter and more.
Pumpkins for Andrew will be available at Browns on Oct. 20 and 21.
For more information about Andrew and his efforts to make it to Russia in 2014, visit www.AndrewRaces.com.