Bowling fundraiser to help man with ALS

By: Eric Czarnik | Sterling Heights Sentry | Published October 2, 2013

An upcoming bowling fundraiser is expected to strike out some of a Sterling Heights man’s expenses after he was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS.

According to organizers, the Oct. 11 fundraiser for Scott Spicuzza will include two games of 9 Pin No-Tap bowling. It will also include a cash bar, pizza and soda.

Scott, his wife and their two children hope to use the fundraiser’s proceeds to help cover major expenses related to his condition, as well as everyday needs since he can no longer work.

For instance, they recently bought a modified van that can fit a wheelchair and obtained a Tobii computer system that helps him communicate more easily.

Renee Spicuzza, Scott’s 17-year-old daughter, said in a letter that she appreciates any donations, adding that assistance can help her father live a more normal lifestyle.

“He has been very lighthearted and positive about this, but in the past few months, he has deteriorated to the point that communication is difficult, as well as mobility, in reference to his hands and legs,” she wrote.

Before his illness, Scott, 47, of Sterling Heights, worked in the automotive and aerospace industries. But in late 2011, he began feeling odd symptoms in his hands and wrists, and he felt more fatigued after exercising.

According to his wife, Colleen, it wasn’t long before doctors suspected it was some type of motor neuron disease.

“It was kind of put on the table when we first got in to the doctor,” she said. “(Scott) really thought he had rheumatoid arthritis.”

Doctors transferred Scott’s care to the University of Michigan in the summer of 2012. Further medical tests led to a grim conclusion last January — he has ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.

ALS of Michigan social worker and patient services coordinator Linda Kern called ALS a progressive neuromuscular disease that attacks muscle-controlling motor neurons in the brain and spinal cord. The degenerative condition can cause paralysis and erode bodily functions like speaking and breathing.

“It’s different for everyone,” Kern said. “Not everyone experiences symptoms exactly the same way or at the same pace.”

Kern said an estimated 1,000 Michiganders live with ALS, and about 200 people are newly diagnosed in the state every year. On average, the life expectancy of a person with ALS is about two to five years from the onset, she said.

Colleen said her husband has found support from family, friends, a local church, his former workplace, his wife’s workplace, his children’s sports groups and ALS organizations.

She added that the family needs money for medical care, future home health care and for adapting their home into a wheelchair-friendly place.

In the meantime, she said, they are grateful for what they do have, and Scott is doing his best to attend his children’s sporting events.

“He is going to be independent as much as he can,” she said.

A bowling fundraiser to benefit Scott will take place at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 11 at Sterling Lanes, 33200 Schoenherr Road, in Sterling Heights. Check-in is 6:30 p.m. Admission is $20 per person, and tickets must be bought ahead of time. Send checks to: Scott Spicuzza Fights ALS. Learn more by calling (586) 484-1237.

Find out more about ALS of Michigan at