EAST LONGMEADOW Principal of East Longmeadow High School, Richard Freccero doesn't have pink floppy ears or a fluffy cotton tail.
Still, teacher James Kiernan spoke on behalf of many by nominating Freccero to the Energizer Keep Going Hall of Fame for his remarkable similarities to the company's energetic spokesbunny.
"Being extremely humorous and making fun of myself I would say I'm a pretty hyper guy,"
Freccero commented on the nomination. "I get to school at 5:15 in the morning and stay a full day and try to make a few night events every week. Even in my free time I try to keep active."
Freccero is one of 100 semi-finalists from across the nation for this second annual award. Nominations were first narrowed down to the current field of 100 finalists and will again be cut down to 10 just finalists on June 14.
The public can then vote via the Internet for one winner who will receive induction into the hall of fame on Sept. 6 in St. Louis Missouri, a $10,000 cash prize and a $5,000 donation to the charity of their choice.
"The spirit of the Energizer Bunny means a never quit spirit a commitment to doing your best and living every day to the fullest," explained Samantha Leavitt, spokesperson for Energizer Battery Company about the qualities recognized in the nominees. "I think you see the commercials and you see the little bunny who keeps going and people really began to recognize that in themselves like teachers who never miss a day of school or Cal Ripkin Jr. who never missed a game of baseball."
The Energizer Keep Going Hall of Fame was created in 2006 as a way to share the stories of people who live every day with the same spirit as the Energizer Bunny. Last year's winner, John O'Leary of St. Louis Missouri endured a horrific burn accident as a child in which he lost his fingers. Despite that setback, today, O'Leary is a husband, father, motivational speaker, business owner and a chaplin at the same hospital in which he recovered from his boyhood injuries.
Leavitt said that this year's nominees come from a broad range of lifestyles but all exemplify the "keep going spirit." Among these are an 82-year-old ballroom dance instructor from Syracuse, N.Y., a little girl in Las Vegas who has used her experience in an abusive family to write children's books for fellow youth in foster care and a Texas man who lost both of his legs while in the military yet has learned to live with prosthetic legs well enough to run with the president.
"Of course the staff knows me quite well and people are always saying 'slow down Rich, I have just one question,' or 'do you have just one second,'" Freccero said. "I was quite surprised and quite touched. I see the staff and students as being the ones who make this school what it is, so I was really very touched."
Voting for the top ten finalists begins June 15. For more information, visit www.energizer.com/halloffame.