George Lazzareschi Jr., a 5-time world champion powerlifter, is facing one of the most difficult challenges of his storied career.
Likewise, Gina Sabitoni-Arakelian – who has gone from the beauty queen runway to the rugged weight lifting arena - is starring at some heavy odds.
Collectively, you see, the Johnston neighbors have been working overtime for Saturday’s New England Regional Powerlifting Championships – which is a qualifier for the 2020 Nationals in April – in hopes of raising some big bucks to provide Jason Lopes, 15, with a special support dog.
“Jason was born with a rare genetic syndrome called Mosaic Trisomy-9,” Sabitoni-Arakelian, who take pride in turning sad stories into successes, was saying the other night at the Ocean State Gym that’s located at 10 Morgan Hill road in Johnston and will host Saturday’s high-power powerlifting championships. “Throughout his life he has courageously overcome many medical and development obstacles, so we’re reaching out to everyone for their help.”
Sabitoni-Arakelian and Lazzareschi, as well as The Doghouse Powerlifting Organization and The Elite Powerlifting Federation that will host Saturday’s championships – are requesting donations to help Jason get a service dog.
“Jason loves Blue Clues and all dogs,” Lazzareschi, who doubles as Vice President of the Itlo-American Club and Superintendent of Public Safety in Providence, offered. “We are hoping to provide him with his own service dog for protection and companionship; please, help support us to get Jason a dog.”
He also emphasized that funds are needed to A) rescue a dog and have it trained to be an emotional support dog and B) to provide funding to feed and keep the dog.
Thus, Saturday’s New England Regional Championships, which will begin with registration Friday night from 6-8 and competition Saturday beginning at 9 a.m. sharp at the Ocean State Gym, will hopefully generate enough revenue from the sale of T-shirts and other contributions from a large field of powerlifters to secure Jason’s service dog.
“Any and all donations will be greatly appreciated,” Lazzareschi wanted it known. “There are all kinds of sponsorships (for the competition) and the event is open to novice, high school, military, correctional officers, police, fire and masters lifters. We have five levels of sponsorships from $75 to $500 and we’ll be selling T-shirts for $15 each. Proceeds from the shirts will be given to Jason.”
Also, anyone who’d like to make a donation should make checks payable to Jason Lopes, c/o Alisha Borrelli and send it EPF George Lazzarschi Jr. 1 almond Drive, Johnston, RI 02919.
“Jason is special,” Sabitoni-Arakelian said of Lopes who she met at Meeting Street School. “From life-saving heart surgery at two months old and a scoliosis repair at age 10 that left him with a steel rod which extends though his back over a year of physical therapy to sit up, walk and stand, he has always persevered with strength and grace.”
Lazzarschi, meanwhile, offered: “Even though Jason can’t speak, he communicates with his friends and the world through his art, music, technology and his charismatic way. He also loves to paint and draw, listen to music, play his guitar and keyboard and drums. Now, we’re hoping to help him with his own service dog.”
Spectators are welcome to watch the always-interesting and exciting powerlifting competition that is also being presented by The Doghouse Powerlifting Organization Children’s Charities.