After being diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (also known as “ALS” and “Lou Gehrig’s disease”) in March of 2014, Tim Hill’s doctors told him to “take it easy” and to “get his affairs in order.”
He responded by walking 10 miles from Dewey Beach to Bethany Beach.
Then, he jumped out of an airplane.
Whether it’s skydiving or the “Ice Bucket Challenge,” Hill has been figuring one way or another to raise funds for local families also suffering from the debilitating disease through his “Ten Mile Miracle” charity for the past three years.
All the while, he’s also been making sure to meet every charity request from patients across Delmarva, never missed a day’s work as the senior property manager at Wilgus Associates in Bethany Beach, and still somehow found the time for physical therapy and his daily summer swim in the Atlantic.
On Saturday, Jan. 21, however, Hill and the Ten Mile Miracle team will be taking on ALS in a whole new way, when WWE Hall of Famer Tito Santana and 30 other professional wrestlers show up at the Frankford fire hall for this year’s “Body Slamming ALS” event. That’s where Hill is ready to defy doctor’s recommendations once again and take to the ring to stretch some rope with the pros.
“It’s kind of funny, because I told my doctor I was doing it and he’s a wrestling fan also,” Hill said, with a laugh. “He’s coming to the event with his family, so the whole physical therapy team and then my doctor and his family will be there — it’s going to be a lot of fun.”
While working with a local promoter on event possibilities for this year’s primetime fundraiser, Hill mentioned an interest in wrestling to his physical therapist, got hooked up with Santana and teamed up with the United Wrestling Alliance, and the idea was born.
It wasn’t long before 30 other professional wrestlers from across the East Coast signed on to help support the cause, and to participate in the 20-person “Battle Royale” set to go as the main event.
Among them, of course, will be Hill — ready to battle for the belt and determined to show yet again that there’s nothing that a disease can stop him from doing.
“We wanted it to be something different, something interesting — something that an ALS patient shouldn’t be able to do,” Hill explained. “I do these things to try and encourage other people with ALS.
“Interestingly enough, my tag-team partner is my physical therapist — he is a wrestling fanatic. I don’t think I’m going to last very long in the ring, but I’ll be in there, assisted by a gentleman that’s over 7 feet tall, so I think I’ll be safe.”
With Frankford fire hall offering up its facilities for the night, Hill said he was hoping to sell out the event, with more than 450 tickets available.
The doors open at 6 p.m., with things getting under way at 7 p.m., and the night also featuring a 50/50 raffle made possible by local businesses and members of the community.
“They have been awesome — they just were so helpful and very gracious in helping us in any way that they could,” Hill said of the Frankford Volunteer Fire Company and the local support. “It’s the perfect venue for this thing.”
According to Hill, roughly half of ALS patients fall victim to the disease within two years of diagnosis.
Coming up on Year 3 in March himself, he attributed his health to staying active, staying committing to physical therapy, and to sometimes pushing the limits when it comes to what an ALS patient is supposed to be able to do.
“Staying active is the most important thing — for instance, in the summer I went swimming every day, and that helped a lot. I do physical therapy, which is pretty strenuous, every week. It’s painful, and it’s not fun, but I do it,” he explained.
“I work every day — I’ve never missed a day’s work since I’ve had this. Most ALS patients are told by the doctors to not do all that — to be careful, to take it easy, to not overdo it. That just has not been the case for me at all.”
While inspiring other patients is one of his primary goals, Hill said he is also determined to be able to provide help for those who need it, through Ten Mile Miracle.
To make that possible, he personally pays for all the organization’s expenses out of his own pocket, which means 100 percent of the funds raised go to providing medical supplies, equipment and whatever else local families afflicted with ALS might need, as soon as they need it.
“It can actually be life-and-death; some patients can’t wait to go through all the red tape if they need something,” Hill explained. “We’ve usually been able to get patients what they need in a matter of days, instead of waiting what can sometimes be up to three to six months through normal channels.
“We have requests all year — it’s amazing that we haven’t run out of funds and that we’ve never had to turn anybody down. There’s other groups that raise money through smaller events who have us handle the money they raise, because they know we’ll handle it correctly.”
Taking on his biggest fundraising venture to date, that’s a track record that Hill plans on staying true to, as, doctor recommended or no, “taking it easy” just isn’t in the cards for him and Ten Mile Miracle.
“We’re expecting several hundred people, so it’s the biggest thing that we’ve undertaken,” Hill said of Body Slamming ALS.
“We just wanted to do something fun — the wrestlers have to go over the top rope, so you’re definitely going to see some crazy stuff. If people are looking just for a fun night, they’re definitely going to get their money’s worth.”
Tickets for general admission cost $20, or $5 for children younger than 10. While tickets can be purchased at the door, the event could sell out for Jan. 21. To purchase tickets online before the event, or to inquire about sponsorships, donate to the raffle or donate towards the cause, visit www.tenmilemiracle.com.