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The Warrior

The comeback: building a sports community

After battling health restrictions, Lane athlete fights back

Pinalto+presenting+Sidelined+Chicago+at+Lane+Tech%E2%80%99s+spring+sports+meeting.
Pinalto presenting Sidelined Chicago at Lane Tech’s spring sports meeting.

Pinalto presenting Sidelined Chicago at Lane Tech’s spring sports meeting.

Pinalto presenting Sidelined Chicago at Lane Tech’s spring sports meeting.

By Jaharri Brodnax and Marques Barnes

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In 2012, sophomore Cade Pinalto was diagnosed with a heart condition that prevented him from participating in basketball. Having played since youth, the game was more than a hobby; it was a lifestyle. After consulting with family and friends, Pinalto was encouraged to find ways to reconnect to the sport he dedicated his life to.

With time, and both physical and emotional perseverance, Pinalto started his own nonprofit organization in attempts to give back to those who find themselves in a situation similar to his.

“I myself am a sidelined athlete,” said Pinalto. “I became interested in starting Sidelined Chicago through personal experience, and I don’t want other athletes to feel like being sidelined has to be the end. In fact, it may just be the beginning.”

Sidelined Chicago is a nonprofit organization committed to helping athletes who can no longer participate in their sport due to a career-ending injury or health condition. Before Pinalto could begin creating Sideline Chicago, he had to face an unfortunate reality.

“Basketball was something that I dedicated countless hours to,” said Pinalto. “I invested everything I had. When I was diagnosed, my world was shaken up. I could no longer play, and worse, that decision was being made for me.”

While things looked to be going downhill permanently, the passion that was stripped from Pinalto was the same thing that introduced him to a new perspective and purpose.

“It was so hard to be around the sport when I couldn’t play,” Pinalto said. “I began to disconnect from basketball, and then my English teacher, Nicholas LoGalbo, who’s also the varsity basketball coach, offered to take me under his wing and teach me to become a coach. It was then that I learned how I could continue my passion for the sport through other avenues.”

This entire project started with the courage and fight of Pinalto, but he also used the help of his influences like Coach LoGalbo and those at home.

“After seeing him come full circle with acceptance of his new reality, I suggested to Cade that he should think about giving back,” Pinalto’s mother said. “He decided the best impact he could have on sidelined athletes would be to get them active in their sport again.”

Starting up a non-profit requires quite a commitment of time. Pinalto and his mother have spent the last nine months building this organization. They have completed work that speaks on spreading Pinalto’s story, as well as helping other people.

“We’ve have had many athletes who have previously been sidelined contact us and share their stories,” Pinalto said. “There was nothing available to help them when they were permanently sidelined. They had to manage through on their own.”

Pinalto empathizes with these athletes and hopes that this community will help them.

“Everyone has their own journey, but for many, the abrupt and permanent nature of the end of their ability to compete in their sport led to despair, depression, and isolation,” Pinalto said. “They have encouraged us and donated to us because they see the huge need that has previously not been addressed.  Being able to hear others’ stories is something that will help sidelined athletes around the globe who are still working through their loss,”
  Christine Pinalto, Cade’s mother, said she felt she had to somehow help him let go of his dream.

“That was devastating as a mom. Moms are supposed to tell their kids, ‘You can do it, don’t listen to anyone else. Persevere,’ etc.,” Ms. Pinalto said. “When Cade had the idea to start Sidelined Chicago, it was a no-brainer for me. I would and will do whatever it takes to help him make his new dream have its full impact.”

Sidelined’s mission focuses on bringing positivity, adaptability, perseverance, meaningful action, community and devotion to a new environment of students involved with sports.

Pinalto said he is forever grateful, and added that he could not do this without the support of his family, friends, and Lane.

 

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The comeback: building a sports community