PITTSTON TOWNSHIP — For the first time in almost 10 years, someone from Luzerne County will compete in the National Special Olympics. Friends and family held a special sendoff for the area athlete today.
If you’ve ever shopped at Redner’s Market in Pittston Township, you probably know Gino Gratalo. He pushes carts and bags groceries.
“He’s almost like a one line comic machine.”
Little did you know, he’s also a Special Olympian.
“I’m just going to go there, try my best. If I win, I win. If I get second, hey, that’s alright though. It’s all in the fun of the game,” said Special Olympian Gino Gratalo.
Friends and family met with Gino for breakfast in Wilkes-Barre Township to wish him luck before he heads to Princeton, New Jersey Friday to play bocce in the Special Olympics National Games. It’s the first time someone from Luzerne County has competed in the national games in close to 10 years.
“Very proud. I just hope that he does well, and I’m sure he will because he always does,” said Gino’s mother Susan Gratalo.
In fact, Gino’s mother says between baseball, basketball, bocce, and golf. Gino’s won 27 medals. Twenty of them are gold, and two of them, he won just last week at the State Special Olympics at Penn State. Gino started playing bocce five years ago with Art Jump as his coach.
“If it wasn’t for art, I wouldn’t have this today, see?” said Gratalo.
“It’s very exciting. I never coached an athlete that went this far so it’s really exciting to me to see. I’m happy for him,” said coach Art Jump.
Gino is mentally challanged, but his mother says nothing can stop him from going for the gold.
“See what I can do, if I can come home with three national medals.”
Something to strive for as Gino continues to keep up the good work.