Youth of the Year – Dominic Pannucci

Congratulations to Dominic Panucci for being named 2011 Youth of the Year!  Check out this great article about Dominic from the Chartiers Valley Patch:

Dominic Panucci received the annual award from the Boys & Girls Club of Western Pennsylvania.
By Mike Jones

Dominic Pannucci thinks that spending much of his youth hanging out at the Chartiers Boys & Girls Club in Carnegie helped him to grow up.

The 18-year-old Collier Township resident played sports, made friends and eventually learned how to become a leader and mentor for other kids. Meanwhile, the Chartiers Valley High School senior battled a mysterious disease that would send him to the hospital every few months.

It was through his leadership and determination through difficult times that earned him the Youth of the Year award from the Boys & Girls Club of Western Pennsylvania. Panucci received the award on March 21 and now will be considered for the statewide award.

“It’s been an unbelievable ride,” Panucci said. “The biggest thing I’ve learned is becoming a leader.”

Panucci said the club’s athletic director brought him out of his shell and taught him how to be a great coach. In the process, he learned how to speak to parents or troubled kids.

“Some of these kids have very difficult situations,” Panucci said. “I tell them if they ever need someone to talk to, I’m always there for them. I’ll stop what I’m doing, let them talk and sometimes that makes their day.”

But Panucci has faced problems of his own.

In late 2009, he was battling a disease that would send him to the hospital for a couple of weeks and then mysteriously disappear. Doctors couldn’t quite pinpoint the problem until last summer when they diagnosed him with Crohn’s Disease, which attacks the digestive tract.

Although the past two years have been difficult, Panucci said seeing the conditions of other patients at Children’s Hospital “set the tone” for his treatment. He has been eating healthier foods and been feeling much better over the past nine months.

“Keep moving forward and don’t feel down or depressed,” Panucci said. “It will all work out.”

Panucci is now looking to the future. He has accepted a partial scholarship to Robert Morris University, where he will study education in the fall.

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