Matt Scoletti isn’t going to be getting much sleep this weekend, but he wouldn’t have it any other way. Mr. Scoletti is competing in the World’s Toughest Mudder contest in Las Vegas, a 24-hour obstacle challenge course. The event consists of a 5-mile route with more than 20 obstacles. The idea of the contest is to complete the 5-mile course as many times as possible during the 24-hour period.
“It messes with your mind as well as your body,” Mr. Scoletti said. The event begins at 10 a.m. Saturday and finishes at 10 a.m. Sunday.
He will be raising money for a new grant program for young adults with cancer through Young Adult Cancer Support Pittsburgh Cancer Caring Center.
A Murrysville native, Mr. Scoletti, 31, now of South Side, has competed in three other shorter Tough Mudder challenges and was on a relay team for a triathlon. He also competed as a professional body builder for a few years.
But he wasn’t always so fitness oriented.
While Mr. Scoletti played basketball when he was a student at Franklin Regional High School and intramural basketball in college at the University of Richmond, he readily admits he didn’t pay attention to other areas in his life.
“I was always pretty active, but partying and my nutrition were pulling me away from being really healthy. I knew I could look better and I could feel better if I paid attention to what I was eating,” he said.
Four years ago, Mr. Scoletti said he was tiring of his lifestyle and happened to hear a motivational speaker. That speaker, Chris Johnson, changed his life. Mr. Johnson is founder of On Target Living, a wellness consulting firm.
“When I heard Chris speak, I realized how important nutrition was. Up until then, I didn’t fully realize it,” Mr. Scoletti recalled.
Mr. Scoletti started eating healthier and working out more intensely.
“In one and a half years, I made significant changes. I had more energy and people started noticing how much better I looked and that was a lot of fun,” he said.
He also started taking part in local fitness competitions and in 2012, he became Pittsburgh’s Physique Athlete of the year and in 2013, he won Mr. Pittsburgh. Mr. Scoletti is also a certified personal trainer and fitness nutrition specialist.
A financial adviser by day, Mr. Scoletti fits in his workouts in the evenings and on weekends, something a lot easier now that he is taking better care of his body, he said.
His fitness regiment also led to him to another important factor in his life — his girlfriend, Stephanie Samolovitch, director of Support Services at the Cancer Caring Center and the reason behind his fundraising efforts.
“I was working out at the gym and noticed her,’’.Mr. Scoletti said.
That was two years ago. Ms. Samolovitch is a cancer survivor and created Young Adult Cancer Support Pittsburgh through the Cancer Caring Center. Now 29, Ms. Samolovitch was diagnosed with leukemia when she was 19. In her role at the center, Ms. Samolovitch knows what other young adults facing cancer go through, including the financial burdens it can bring.
Along those lines, she created a grant program to award young adults with cancer or survivors $100 grants to help them with their bills and expenses. Mr. Scoletti will help raise money for these grants in his upcoming challenge.
“To have financial assistance can really help some of these people when they are facing tough times,” he said.
Raising money is nothing new for Mr. Scoletti. Every March he creates a March Madness Charity event in which he chooses a local charity and his friends and family fill choose teams and pledge donations based on the outcome of the NCAA basketball tournament.
“It is a fun way to raise money,” he said.
Raising money during the World’s Toughest Mudder Challenge will be a bit harder.
“Steph is going to be there at the end of every 5 miles. When I see her, I’ll be reminded of why I’m doing this and to keep going,” he said.
HOMETOWN: Grew up in Murrysville, now lives on South Side
OCCUPATION: Financial adviser
EDUCATION: Bachelor’s degree from the University Richmond
WHAT’S IMPORTANT? “God, my family, my girlfriend, finance and fitness.”
FIRST JOB: Working as a camp counselor at Camp Kon-O-Kwee
WHEN YOU WERE A KID, YOU WANTED TO BE ... ? “Either an NBA player or follow my father’s footsteps and become a financial adviser.’’
HOBBIES: Fitness, playing poker, dancing like a silly person, watching movies and travel
READING MATERIAL ON NIGHTSTAND: “Farside Gallery”
WHAT’S PLAYING ON TV? CNBC “The Profit” and “American Ninja Warrior”
WHAT’S ON YOUR PLAYLIST? Country music
FANTASY CELEBRITY DINNER DATE: LeBron James
PEOPLE WOULD BE SURPRISED TO KNOW: “I was on America’s Funniest Home Video in 2012.”
MOST EMBARRASSING MOMENT: “When my resistance band slipped off a foot while making an exercise video and hit me in the face. It was the video that won second place on ’America’s Funniest Home Videos.’ One of my most embarrassing moments turned out to be one of the best moments of my life.”
BEST USE OF $100 GIFT CARD: Donate to charity
CELEBRITY PARTNER ON “DANCING WITH THE STARS”: “Rihanna under one arm and Carry Underwood under the other.’’
WHO WOULD PLAY YOU IN A MOVIE ABOUT YOUR LIFE: “The best looking actor in Hollywood.”
GUILTY PLEASURE: Eating large masses of peanut butter
FAVORITE SPOT IN THE WORLD: “Christmas Eve with family and girlfriend.’’
PROUDEST MOMENT, SO FAR: “I’m projecting, but I think it will be this event, because it also shows how I have made a change in my lifestyle in the past few years leading up to this event.”
GOALS: “Surviving and flying home after this event. Raising money and awareness for local charities. Being the best manager of clients’ assets in Pittsburgh. Staying close to family and living life out in Pittsburgh.’’
WHAT’S ON YOUR BUCKET LIST? Venice, Italy.
Kathleen Ganster, freelance writer, firstname.lastname@example.org.