By Charlie M. Holmes
---- — Aidan Macaluso is a senior at Cooperstown Central School who has set a big goal for his last year of high school — raise enough money to bring clean water to an entire community in Rwanda.
Macaluso is president of the Leo Club, an organization that already does a lot of good for Cooperstown.
“We have a backpack program where we supply kids at the elementary school who are less fortunate with food,” Macaluso said. “We rake people’s leaves. We help out with Winter Carnival, pancake breakfasts. We raise money for various types of different things around town.”
Macaluso decided the Leo Club could do more after he had a conversation with his aunt.
“My aunt was adopted from Ethiopia,” Macaluso explained. “She was telling me about an organization called Charity Water that brought fresh water to communities in Africa.”
Intrigued by the discussion, Macaluso went online to learn more about Charity Water.
“I realized how much people in the U.S. take water for granted when people in other countries, like Rwanda, don’t even have fresh water,” Macaluso said. “They have to walk miles just to get dirty water that can make them sick.”
At that point, Macaluso set a goal for the Leo Club — to raise $5,000 — enough money to bring clean water to an entire community. The Leo Club put up signs around the school to let others know what they were trying to accomplish. Music director Sal Salvaggio noticed the signs and decided he could help out by raising funds through the school’s annual “Cooperstown Rocks” concert.
“It teaches the kids a little about social responsibility,” Salvaggio said. “Music is a powerful force for many good things.”
Salvaggio was standing in the hall just outside Sterling Auditorium. As he spoke, a group called The Others finished a song and the crowd of about 75 people burst out in applause and let out a few whoops of delight. The Others was not the only group set to perform. Seven other bands also donated their time and talent to help the Leo Club reach its goal.
The concert along with bracelet sales raised $750 toward the cause, but that wasn’t the end of the Leo Club’s fund raising for the weekend. The club organized a race that was run Sunday in Glimmerglass State Park called “Tame the Lion 5K.” That event brought in an additional $600 bringing the weekend’s total to $1,350.
Shane Harrington, a 16-year-old who attends Morris Central School, won the race with a time of 24 minutes 56 seconds.
“It was the hardest course I’ve ever run in my life,” Harrington said.
Harrington had previously run a 5k with a time of 18 minutes 30 seconds.
Mike Rutledge came in second. Rutledge was neck-and-neck with Harrington up until the final hill. He’s from the Milford area and said he was attracted to the “Tame the Lion 5K” because it was a trail run.
“It was challenging,” Rutledge commented. “Very steep, muddy and great — just the way a trail run should be.”
After this weekend’s events the Leo Club is about halfway to its goal of $5,000. To help the club bring clean water to Rwanda, make a donation at mycharitywater.org/cooperstownleoclub.