Extreme effort: Shelton EMT running 24 hours to aid Echo Hose, injured Seymour EMT

SHELTON — Michael Pereiro will once again be taking fundraising to the extreme.

The Shelton resident and volunteer emergency medical technician will be hitting the road for a 24-hour ultramarathon through the trails and streets of the city to raise money to help Echo Hose Ambulance purchase a paramedic first responder vehicle.

“I get to give back to the people who have helped make me the provider and person I am today,” Pereiro said about his reasons for holding such a grueling benefit. “They have become a second family to me over the past year and a half so being able to help those who have given me so much already is a great feeling.”

Titled the Frozen 24, Pereiro’s ultramarathon will kick off at 8 p.m. Friday at Echo Hose Ambulance headquarters. The public is invited to celebrate his send off on Friday as well as a gathering with pizza, hot cocoa and even a visit from Santa Claus at noon on Saturday at the headquarters to cheer him on.

“The run in and of itself is not only difficult since it’s hard enough staying hydrated and awake for that amount of time, but also competing with the weather is an obstacle in and of itself,” he added. “What can go wrong will go wrong, but getting over those mental and physical obstacles is always fun.”

Pereiro ran a 24-hour ultramarathon in June 2020, raising $7,000 for Echo Hose Ambulance.

“He’s an amazing young man and so committed to helping the people of Shelton,” Echo Hose Ambulance Assistant Chief Joe Laucella said. “He’s so determined … very focused on what he does. He has done a lot of great work here and with other departments over the last couple years.”

This year, his goal stands at $20,000, with half going toward buying the new paramedic “fly” car. Laucella said the new vehicle, fully outfitted, will cost about $50,000, and the department appreciates Pereiro using his athletic talents to help cover those costs.

The remainder of the money raised will go to Josh Henriquez, an EMT for Ansonia and Seymour.

Henriquez, also a Seymour firefighter, was struck by a car on Sept. 30 while training for a marathon in Southington. He has been left with multiple facial fractures along with a broken arm.

“EMS is a very physical job and we are not sure how long it will take for him to recover,” Pereiro said. “I don’t personally know Josh, but everyone I have met said he is an amazing individual.”

Since his last benefit ultramarathon, Pereiro has competed as an elite athlete for Spartan Race as well as Bone Frog. He has competed in five Spartan Race events this past year alone — one being the Vermont Ultra Beast and the other the 24-hour World Championship in Telluride, Colo.

He has also been competing in some other backyard ultras throughout Connecticut, New York and Pennsylvania, as well as running roughly 40 miles a week along with lifting weights and doing Jiu Jitsu.

“I train approximately three hours per day on top of working three EMS jobs,” said Pereiro, who also works in the Hartford and Waterbury areas.

Last year’s race was held in June, but, according to Pereiro, it was not possible to hold it this summer with Echo Hose Ambulance’s new paramedic program set to begin in full in mid-2022.

“We kept trying to figure out a time to make the event happen, but didn’t decide on an exact date,” he said. “That was until Josh got hit by a car, and we found out the extent of his injuries. We wanted to make the run happen as fast as possible, but give us enough time to get Echo Hose, Ansonia, and Seymour EMS together to make the event as big as possible. We all decided on Dec 3 into the 4.”

Pereiro is a Shelton High School alum; he graduated from Southern Connecticut State University in 2017 with a bachelor’s degree in sociology. He recently joined Echo Hose Ambulance Corps after completing the organization’s EMT class about two years ago.

“Echo is a volunteer service that is made up of more than 100 staff and answers more than 5,000 calls per year,” Pereiro said. “These men and women do so much for the community that it was now my turn to step up and help them.

“I like volunteering for Echo Hose Ambulance because this is my hometown, and I love serving the community where I live,” Pereiro added. “I have learned so much being at Echo Hose Ambulance Corps and I will continue to grow.”

To donate, visit echohose.org.