Long Neck man’s battle with ALS set to take fund-raising flight


14 ALS tim hill

Long Neck resident Tim Hill, who was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis 18 months ago, this Saturday plans to skydive with friends, co-workers and family at the Laurel Airport in support of Ten Mile Miracle, a non-profit 501 (c) 3 organization he founded to raises awareness and funding for people stricken with ALS in the area.

LONG NECK – Eighteen months ago, Tim Hill was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s Disease.

Last November, he walked 10 miles, from Dewey Beach to Bethany Beach.

The 58-year-old Long Neck man admits he’s scared of heights.

This Saturday, he’s skydiving.

“I am afraid of heights. So that is kind of why I picked this,” said Mr. Hill.

Saturday at about 1 p.m., Mr. Hill and five others – family, friends and co-workers – will jump from a plane in a fund-raising skydiving adventure above the Laurel Airport.

“We will be in tandem; we will be strapped to somebody that knows what they are doing,” said Mr. Hill.  “We have a photographer/videographer jumping with us.”

Jumping with Mr. Hill are a couple co-workers, two people whose father passed away from ALS and one of his wife Cindy’s nephews.

Bravery is part of Mr. Hill’s response to Lou Gehrig’s Disease, or ALS – amyotrophic lateral sclerosis – a progressive neurodegenerative disease for which there is no cure.

Since his diagnosis last spring he hasn’t missed a day of work at Wilgus Associates in Bethany. He is the vice-president.

ALS ten mile miracle

“I’ve been able to work every day,” said Mr. Hill. “I have issues. I’m not cured, but I am well.”

The jump supports Ten Mile Miracle, a fully accredited non-profit 501 (c) 3 organization that raises awareness and funding in support of people stricken with ALS in the region.

“All of the costs, every penny of fundraising cost is covered privately, so 100 percent of all proceeds go directly to patients,” said Mr. Hill. “I have ALS. That’s why I have been doing these fundraisers for the patients at the clinic at PRMC (Peninsula Regional Medical Center). It has not been easy. So many others get sick so fast they are not able to do these types of things that I am doing for them.”

Health problems started with falls.

“I started falling, badly, mainly on steps. My foot would catch and I had no idea why. Then I started to get bad cramps. It starts in your legs. It goes up into your hands. My fingers would start to curl up and I couldn’t control it. It is extremely painful,” said Mr. Hill. “Then it goes all over your body; your body just starts not doing what your brain tells it to do. There is cutoff of the signal from the brain to the body and the body starts acting odd.”

For the better part of two years, there was no definite diagnosis.

“In my case it was 18 months to two years of going through tests and different things to figure out what it was. That’s the typical time frame,” he said.

In the end, it wasn’t Lyme disease or Parkinson’s, but ALS.

“ALS is the disease you don’t want to get. It is completely shocking when you hear it. Really, you kind of give up because you’re told there is no hope,” said Mr. Hill. “When I was diagnosed I got sick very quickly and was only able to walk a block or two. You are given no hope whatsoever when you are diagnosed – zero – of it getting better.”

14 ALS tim walking

Long Neck resident Tim Hill, who has Lou Gehrig’s Disease, last November walked 10 miles to raise awareness and funding in support of other people stricken with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

He did not give up.

“I just saw a little glimpse of light of hope that I started to feel a little better. And I thought, ‘Well, if I can get a little better, I can get a lot better,’” Mr. Hill said. “I did physical therapy and started doing things and I started to get better. I realized that maybe there was a chance. So I was able to work my way up to November of last year to walk 10 miles.”

The 10-mile walk was a self-made miracle and a huge fundraising success.

“We had a great fundraiser and have been able to help an awful lot of the patients with their needs. Because it all comes down to they run out of money, and they can’t even afford the basics. That’s what we do,” said Mr. Hill. “So this year we’re doing the jump. We expect a great crowd out there to watch us. I watched a jump. It was rather terrifying but it was a lot of fun.”

Mr. Hill expects some patients with advanced ALS will be among the spectators on the ground.

“It’s very heart-warming to see that they’ll come out in the condition that they are in,” he said.

The only thing that can ground the jump is stormy weather.

“If it is just overcast, we go ahead and do it,” said Mr. Hill.

News Editor Glenn Rolfe can be reached at grolfe@newszap.com

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