Andrew is my nephew that many of you have read about here
Weekend fundraiser will help Enfield man get to Paralympic Games
By Will Healey Journal Inquirer | Posted: Thursday, May 12, 2016 12:11 pm
ENFIELD — Andrew Haraghey is used to overcoming obstacles, though for his latest challenge, he’s looking to the community for help.
The 20-year-old — who has become an accomplished alpine ski racer despite having cerebral palsy that affects movement in his lower extremities — is holding a pasta dinner May 14 to raise funds to help him train to make the U.S. Paralympic Ski Team, which will compete in the 2018 Paralympic Games in PyeongChang, South Korea.
Haraghey, a graduate from Enrico Fermi High School who just finished his sophomore year at Westminster College in Salt Lake City, Utah, has been skiing competitively for five years. He has had strong showings in U.S. national skiing events, including a bronze medal finish in the slalom two seasons ago, and another bronze in the “super combined” and “super G” events this past season.
But Haraghey’s path to skiing glory was tougher than most people’s.
He was diagnosed with cerebral palsy after coming down with viral encephalitis when he was 6 months old. The disorder affected his gait and made moving around difficult. When he was about 8 years old, however, his mother, Sheryl Haraghey, took him to Ski Sundown in New Hartford and started teaching him how to ski.
Initially, he said, it was very hard for him, and he began by gripping a pole held by his mother. Over time, his balance and leg strength improved to the point where he’s now able to reach speeds of up to 80 miles per hour assisted only by poles modified with “outriggers” that look like small skis.
Haraghey said skiing at a young age likely played a role in his ability to walk unassisted today.
“Skiing definitely made me stronger,” he said. “When I started, I wasn’t strong enough to stand on my own, but as I was skiing, over time I was steadily building strength.”
Haraghey started skiing competitively in the 2011-12 season, skiing in regional events in Connecticut, Vermont, and New Hampshire. It was at the end of that season that he set his goal for the 2018 Paralympics.
“The 2014 games would have been a stretch, but 2018 was a more realistic goal,” he said.
Following Haraghey’s success skiing, his mother wrote and illustrated a children’s book about him, called “Andrew Can Ski.” The book tells of the boy’s perseverance to become a great skier, in hopes of inspiring young people and increasing their “ability awareness.” A disability advocate and motivational speaker, Sheryl Haraghey goes into schools to tell her son’s story, and further promote awareness through her “Awareness Games” program, in which she teaches children to use adaptive sports equipment.
When he’s around, Haraghey participates in the events and tells his story firsthand.
“It’s nice to see the kids at the end of the day understand and leave with a new experience and a new way of seeing things,” he said.
Unfortunately, Haraghey recently had a setback in his quest to make the Paralympic Games. In late February, at the World Cup Finals in Aspen, Colorado, he broke his leg during a training run. Though he’s been sidelined since then, Haraghey expects to be back on the slopes in November, and said he didn’t expect the injury to impact his goal significantly.
The pasta supper will be held Saturday, May 14, at Enfield Elks Lodge 2222 located at 138 N. Maple St., from 4 to 9 p.m. Tickets are $10 per person, which includes dinner of pasta and meatballs, salad, and dessert. There also will be music and dancing, and a raffle featuring a two-day “stay-and-ski” at Mt. Snow and gift cards from local businesses.
Those interested in donating to Haraghey’s training can do so at
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