The Hope is in the Science

Honoring Two Great Men

I miss my grandfather. The hard working son of Polish immigrants, Big Walt Sulewski (or “Pop-pop” as he was affectionately known by his grandchildren), was a loving husband, father and grandfather who would give you the shirt off his back if you needed it.

I remember the time he took me to McDonalds because I said I could eat 10 hamburgers. Of course, I failed (I was only 6 or 7 at the time). But the way he humored me and made me feel like an adult and just another example of his big heart. Thinking about Pop-pop will always conjure memories of CB radios, Michelobs, “wheat” pennies and his infectious, booming laugh.

He was taken from us almost 30 years ago by ALS, a devastating disease that robbed him of the chance to see how his family has grown - great grandkids, weddings and countless personal success stories. But we know he is looking down on us with pride.

Unfortunately my experience with ALS does not end with my grandfather. About 5 1/2 years ago, my father-in-law, Mike Pohorylo, was diagnosed; he succumbed to this disease a few years later. Mike was an amazing man who made friends wherever he went. I will forever cherish the time we had together playing flag football, that August conversation and shooting the breeze over some BBCs during deck time. He welcomed me into his family with open arms and gave me his most prized possession -  his daughter’s hand.

Joined by marriage years ago, the Sulewski and Pohorylo families were now bound by loss at the hands of ALS. The Sulewskis graciously decided to include Mike in our Fiesta 5k Team Big Walt team out of love and respect for our ever-growing family and to show that we are all in this fight together as a family.

During Mike’s illness, the thought that kept coming to mind was that it had been 30 years since my grandfather passed, yet there seemed to be no progress in treating ALS. As discouraging at that may seem, I have faith in the brilliance and determination of the folks at the Packard Center. There WILL be a cure one day. Please contribute what you can to help make that happen!!