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Madison Puppolo of Hoosac Valley High School, Conor Burt of Wahconah Regional High School, and Aaron Cassavant of Pittsfield High School each received $2,000 for their college education in honor of the man who was an inspiration to many.
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Madison Puppolo will be studying criminal justice and playing softball at Herkimer College in New York.
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Conor Burt will be studying criminal justice at Franklin Pierce University.
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Aaron Cassavant will be studying fire science at Berkshire Community College.

Iron Mike Polidoro Scholarship Given to Three Local High School Graduates

By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Three local high school graduates were awarded the “Iron Mike Polidoro Scholarship" created in honor of Pittsfield Fire Department's former Deputy Chief Michael Polidoro, who passed away on March 30 after a long battle with Lou Gehrig's disease.
 
On Tuesday, a small ceremony was held at the Pittsfield Fire Department headquarters where the recipients received the scholarships.  Friends and family of Polidoro gathered for the occasion.
 
“He was an icon in the Pittsfield Fire Department and in Massachusetts," Fire Chief Thomas Sammons said. “It's great that the generosity of our community poured out and we are able to do this."
 
The award is given to Berkshire County high-school seniors wishing to pursue a career in the fire department, law enforcement, or emergency health service fields.  It was created by his wife  Donna and other family members to continue his legacy in younger generations.
 
Madison Puppolo of Hoosac Valley High School, Conor Burt of Wahconah Regional High School, and Aaron Cassavant of Pittsfield High School each received $2,000 for their college education in honor of the man who was an inspiration to many.
 
Puppolo will be studying criminal justice and playing softball at Herkimer College in New York, Burt will be studying criminal justice at Franklin Pierce University in New Hampshire, and Cassavant will be studying fire science at Berkshire Community College.
 
Polidoro served in the department for 28 years and continued to help out when possible. He'd been a member of the region's hazardous materials team and had spent time at the World Trade Center during recovery operations after the Sept. 11 attacks and volunteered in the aftermath of other disasters, including Hurricane Katrina.
 
He retired in 2017 after being diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a neurodegenerative condition often referred to as Lou Gehrig's disease.  In 2019, Engine 6 was dedicated to Polidoro and renamed “Poly's Pride."
 
After being diagnosed with ALS, he teamed up with Lee Police Chief Jeffery Roosa, who also has ALS and retired earlier this year, to raise funds and awareness of the disease through  "Arrest and Extinguish ALS" events. An event in 2019 in Lenox raised $50,000.
 
Between various fundraisers, the department was able to raise around $20,000 for the scholarship fund.  One of which was crossfit fundraiser held by Pittsfield firefighter Jamie Law, owner of Crossfit Pittsfield.
 
“We were able to develop a workout that had some numbers involved for his career," Law said. “And when we tried to raise as much money to go to a local legend, I think they rose to the occasion and was able to do that."
 
Next year, the Iron Mike Polidoro Scholarships will be given to two graduating seniors and two Pittsfield firefighters for career advancement.
 
Beginning in the fall, the Massachusetts Association of Hazardous Materials is also recognizing Polidoro by naming an award after him because of his achievements in the HAZMAT department.
 
Members of the Pittsfield Fire Department said that the depth of Polidoro's character was amazing between being knowledgeable, hard-working, and caring.
 

Tags: ALS,   fire department,   

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Community Walks 'Out of The Darkness' for Suicide Prevention

By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff

Lori Murphy speaks at Saturday's walk about how mental illness and suicide has affected her family.

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Some 200 people participated in the Berkshire County Out of the Darkness walk for suicide prevention on Saturday. For some, it was a day to honor the life of a loved one and for others, it was a day to acknowledge themselves as survivors.

Walkers began at the Common, made a loop around Silver Lake, and returned back to the park. The walks began nationally in 2004 and has been in the Berkshires since 2015.

Members of the Berkshire Coalition for Suicide Prevention and others shared their stories during the event of how suicide affected them and their families.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255. To contact the Crisis Text Line, text HELLO to 741741.

"We're all here because we have a connection to suicide," said coalition Vice President Bertha Connelley. "We acknowledge all the different connections that bring you here today."

According to data from American Federation for Suicide Prevention, around 46,000 people died by suicide in the United States in 2020. That is 125 per day and one every 11 1/2 minutes.

"We also know that 90 percent of these people had a diagnosable and treatable psychological illness at the time of their death," Connelley added.

"We've gathered here today to raise awareness, decrease the stigma, and support research that will help identify and treat people suffering from mental illnesses with the ultimate goal of continuing to lower these numbers ...

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