Saturday Spotlight- Mike Buttitta

Oh Baby!! Warrior of the week! In my life there are two things that must happen each week; I must watch the walking dead (I’m obsessed) and I MUST read the Warrior of the week! And I must go visit Joanne at her candy store and empty the store of its contents!! Ok the last one isn’t true but a boy can dream! I look forward to the WOTW, every week and can’t wait to see who it is.
I’m not kidding, we were in Florida back in February, visiting my parents and I woke up Saturday morning and thought “Oh wow who is the Warrior of the week?” When I saw it was Rich Sallustro, my whole trip was ruined! frown emoticon I’m totally kidding, I literally yelled “YEAH!!”out loud and then poor Kelli Long had to hear ANOTHER story about a Hillbilly and how great the person is. Oy vey this poor girl! LOL! I have literally yelled out “YES!” as I have come to our page on so many Saturdays as I have read the stories of our fellow warriors. Except for the Saturday that it was Michael DiBartolo, I hate that Sonofabitch!! Ha! I can’t help myself, I love to kid, I Love you Mike! I just want to say before I start my tale of running how great this group is and how much I LOVE seeing Selden Hills people, whether it be on the course, or at races (it is thrilling to me to watch so many of you flying towards the finish lines all over Long Island) or on line at packet pick ups. I love seeing red!
Ok the story of me, the anticipation is terrific!! (Cue “I am a Real American,” Hulk Hogan’s song from wrestling) I promise not to rip my shirt off Lol! So, as long as I can remember I have always liked to run. I remember playing Pop Warner football and the fact that I really loved sprints at the end of practice. I was slow compared to my buddies but running felt so FREEKIN great! It felt so free, and I loved trying to catch up to my teammates during those sprints. I think racing with another person is one of the most amazing and thrilling things we have the opportunity to do and it is still as thrilling for me now as it was the first time in elementary school that someone yelled out “Race Ya!” to some agreed upon spot.
Fast forward to high school, I remember that I never thought of running cross country or myself as a runner per se, but I loved running a little course around the streets of my house which, looking back, was almost exactly a 4K course. Ahhhh the hardscrabble streets of Med-Stuy! Shout out to the Double One Seven Six Three. Lol! I ran around the neighborhood all throughout high school and into college but as I got to college that’s when my battle with being overweight really began. I went from 185 as a freshman to 260 when I graduated my senior year. I put on roughly 15-20 pounds each year and by my junior year I had stopped running entirely.
When I got home from school my weight stabilized for about a year and a half and then as I went back to school at Hofstra for post grad stuff, I ballooned up to about 320 pounds and that is where I stayed from the time I was probably 22 or 23 until the fall of 2007.
I was on vacation with my parents in Vancouver and I started to get these really bad headaches and I started sweating at night really badly and sometimes even during the day. For about three months, I was in and out of doctor’s offices until I was diagnosed with an auto immune condition called Wegener’s Disease. The treatment for Wegeners, and it is treatable, thank God, is a low level chemo drug and prednisone. The Wegener’s disease went into remission thanks to the treatment but I blew up to my highest weight; 370 pounds. I always remember sitting in Dr Kim’s office and reading a note that my mom had written to Dr.Kim asking him to Please help me and how truly thankful she was for his help with Wegeners but how saddened and scared she was about me being almost 400 pounds.
As I stopped taking Prednisone and started walking, the weight started to come off. Within a year I was back to the weight I started (about 320 pounds) but I didn’t want to stop there and I wanted to go back to how I felt in high school so I started dreaming about running again. I can always remember going down to the track at Rocky Point High School and not being able to make it around one time but I didn’t care, it felt so good to be running!!
I began to run/walk more and more and the running portion grew bigger and bigger. Which brings me to my first 5K, the Judi Shesh run in Bay Shore. I ran that with my sister and met Kiersten Burns Bartolotta, my sister’s running coach and Kiersten became my running coach and that really changed my life. smile emoticon (Kiersten hates smiley faces). Kiersten just kept pushing me and pushing me and yelling for me to run faster! LOL!
Thanks to KB, as I like to call her, I progressed from 5K to 10K to a Wednesday morning back at the end of October two years ago, running the Selden Hills for the first time with Kiersten and Kristine Densing. Thank you so much Krissy for inviting me. Holy Crap what a feeling that was, just truly overwhelming! From there, Kiersten created a class for a half marathon and our class ran the Long Island Half together, one of the great experiences of my life.
I have continued running our beloved hills and this week is actually my two year hillaversary! Unfortunately, my Wegener’s disease felt left out of all this running and wanted to pay me another visit this spring. Lol! But I am back, in remission, and I can’t wait to run our hills tomorrow morning with Kristen Girardi!

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