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Boy With Rare Disorder Meets His Hero: Punxsutawney Phil

Groundhog and Conn. boy

Mark Russo traveled with his family all the way from Trumbull, Conn., this weekend to meet with Inner Circle members John Griffiths (far left) and Dr. Dave Gigliotti for a special early-birthday event: To have a party with Punxsutawney Phil at the Pantall Hotel. Mark will turn 12 Oct. 18.Photo by Tom Chapin/The Punxsutawney Spirit

A Connecticut boy with a rare developmental disorder came to Pennsylvania to meet his hero: the groundhog known as Punxsutawney Phil.

Eleven-year-old Mark Russo, of Trumbull, Conn., traveled to Punxsutawney on Saturday. The town about 65 miles northeast of Pittsburgh is home to an annual Groundhog Day celebration that airs on national television.

Russo was born with Rubinstein-Taybi syndrome, a developmental disorder. Michele and David Russo, the boy’s parents, say he reads a lot and surfs the Internet to research subjects that fascinate him. For he last two years, that’s been Groundhog Day.

Russo’s family says the boy wakes up each morning and hoists one of his pet rabbits into the air to re-enact the Groundhog Day celebrations he’s seen online, while listening to the "Pennsylvania Polka."

Click here to read more from The Punxsutawney Spirit.