Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

CHARLIE McGILL AWARD AND SCHOLARSHIP WINNERS: NM'S COLUCCI AN INSPIRATION

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

CHARLIE McGILL AWARD AND SCHOLARSHIP WINNERS: NM'S COLUCCI AN INSPIRATION

Article excerpt

There are not many obstacles, it would seem, Gabriel Colucci cannot overcome.

He's excelled on the football field and stood out in the classroom at New Milford High School. What sets him apart, however, is how he has handled what he's gone through away from those two settings that makes the Charlie McGill Award and Scholarship recipient so remarkable.

Colucci spent much of his youth battling Nephrotic Syndrome, a rare kidney disease that causes severe edema. He won that fight, though, when the disease went into remission eight years ago.

That he was able to deal with his kidney disease with such dignity and grace, however, pales in comparison to how Colucci handled his near-death experience after his appendix burst during his junior year.. He was in the hospital for four weeks, which included a stint being hooked up to a ventilator when he stopped breathing. Colucci then spent four weeks convalescing at home, planning how he would rectify all the damage that his body had suffered during his illness. His remarkable recovery and return to the football field and classroom speaks volumes of his determination.

"That [the appendix] was really hard with the emotional toll it took on me in the hospital," said Colucci. "I was on my deathbed. The doctors told me a very small percentage of people survived what happened to me. I thought I wasn't going to make it.

"I was lucky to make it out because people didn't survive the condition I had with my kidneys or appendix. That's the main reason I don't think about it today because of how close it was to the end. I feel blessed now, though, and my whole mind-set has changed. I don't take anything for granted and I strive to inspire other people."

What Colucci did after he recovered from his burst appendix was remarkable. All the work he had done in the weight room and on the football field since the Nephrotic Syndrome had gone into remission had been undone. …

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