Annemarie Pellerito’s fervent passion for life, in spite of her lifelong and ultimately fatal battle with neurofibromatosis (NF) compelled her parents, Vicki and Peter Pellerito (MBA ’74) to establish a scholarship to honor her legacy. Their goal is two-fold: 1) to increase the awareness of NF for students pursuing degrees in health and human services professions so they can be more helpful to people with NF, and 2) to continue Annemarie’s legacy of perseverance, inspiration, tenacity, and courage. These same qualities led her to garner the Most Inspirational Award for Special Olympics Equestrian. The Pelleritos’ seek students for the award who display the motivation, passion, drive, and work-ethic that Annemarie displayed throughout her arduous life.
Annemarie was a most special young lady. She felt unconditional love and accepted all people and animals. She was a natural and avid horsewoman who won multiple gold medals in riding and jumping at Special Olympics Equestrian. People who met her learned lessons about living in the moment, being adaptable, and self-acceptance. When NF progressed and prevented Annemarie from riding, she took to following the horse racing circuit. Hollywood Park held Annemarie Pellerito Day in her honor, and a thoroughbred Arabian National Champion owner named his horse Annie’s Lullaby in her honor.
Additionally, the Annemarie Pellerito Memorial Foundation created an endowment for CSULB Camp Nugget, a camp that provides physical fitness, social and recreational opportunities for children with special needs. Annemarie attended Camp Nugget as a child, and the endowment assures that the lives of future generations of children can be enriched as Annemarie’s was by attending.
Since 2006 numerous students in the College of Health and Human Services have entered health care professions with the support of the Annemarie Pellerito Scholarship. Through the recipients, Anne’s spirit is kept alive, she continues to inspire others, and future generations of health care professionals gain a better understanding of the debilitating neurological tumor disorder NF.