Boardman Boosters welcome the public to join them in their support of the Valley's Olympic hopeful, a 2005 graduate of Boardman High School, with the establishment of the Michael Mannozzi Olympic Dream Fund.
Furthering his education at South Euclid's Notre Dame College, Mannozzi obtained a bachelor's degree in education, became the first All American, and has since become the 2011 National Champion in both the NAIA 3K Race-walk and the USA Club Nationals 5K Race-walk.
Never standing still for long, Mannozzi has kept up the pace so to speak, winning his last three races -- the 2012 Penn Relays 10K race-walk, the 25th Annual Jack Mortland 20K race-walk (Ohio state championships), and the Furman University Invitational 5K Race-walk.
Finishing second in the USA 10K Race-walk Championship in Albany, N.Y., on June 2, Mannozzi will next travel to Eugene, Ore., for the U.S. Olympic Trials on June 30, where he hopes to earn a spot on the U.S. Olympic Team as a 20K race-walker.
Sharing that while a wrestler at Notre Dame College, the track coach first suggested race-walking to him, telling him it was an Olympic sport.
"That's all it took to get me excited," said Mannozzi, who went on to say that after attending a camp in Chicago, "It fueled my fire to keep going."
Inspired by his father, James, who was afflicted with multiple sclerosis and died when Mannozzi was just 14, Mannozzi said his father was unable to walk the last 10 years of his life. With his Olympic quest and choice of sport a fitting tribute, Mannozzi said of the chain of events that followed, "I've had a lot of the right people help me at the right time."
"I know what it's going to take," said Mannozzi, whose training regimen includes walking 60 to 70 miles a week in addition to biking for transportation to his job as a youth day camp counselor at the Davis Family YMCA in Boardman.
According to information provided by the Boardman Boosters, sponsorship monies will help offset expenses Mannozzi incurs through conditioning, his training regimen, and travel for various competitions and additional coaching opportunities and assures sponsors that each of their dollars will "be an investment in the hope of watching our home-town athlete represent us proudly in the summer Olympics."
Sponsorship details can be obtained by calling Scott Agnew or Sandi Agnew at 330-758-7156 or George Basista or Beth Basista at 330-758-7801. Mannozzi's progress can be followed at Michael-Giuseppe-Mannozzi on Facebook or visit michaelmannozzi.com.
Humbled by the assistance of both his church, Evangel Baptist, and that of the Boardman Boosters, he said, "People have really cared about who I am. Boardman has never had a track Olympian."
Calling the upcoming trials "one doorstep from the Olympics," Mannozzi seems undaunted by the task ahead, seeing instead, nothing but possibilities. As with his 2011 win at the Milrose Mile, "Dreams do come true," he said.