Tim Hill’s walk from Dewey Beach to Bethany Beach on November 22 is a 10-mile journey, and it will show how far he has already come. Hill has ALS – amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, which attacks nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord, and affects the body’s ability to control muscles. For many with ALS, a short walk is impossible.
“That’s why I am doing this walk – to offer hope,” Hill said. “When you’re told that there is no hope, you don’t try. I want to show people that trying matters.”
Hill first noticed the onset of symptoms – unsteadiness, shaking, severe leg pain – about three years ago. He received his diagnosis in the spring of 2014 at a major Baltimore-area hospital, and was taken aback by what the doctor told him. “He said, ‘Get your affairs in order,’ and that was it. I asked about physical therapy, things I could do to help, and he told me that even if it did help a little, my insurance probably wouldn’t cover it.”
Hill wasn’t content with that answer. He found Peninsula Regional Medical Center’s ALS clinic, which brings together a team of healthcare experts from all disciplines related to ALS: neurologists, pulmonologists, gasteroenterologists, physiatrists, dietitians, physical, occupational and speech therapists, social workers, chaplains and more. “They saved my life,” Hill said.
Working determinedly on his physical therapy, Hill went from being able to walk only a few blocks to reaching five miles. “I walk two miles every night, I do hours of physical therapy daily, I take my medications – I do everything the professionals tell me to do, because I have to say ahead of it,” he said.
Hill has normal strength and hasn’t missed a day of work at Wilgus Associates in Bethany Beach, where he is senior property manager and vice president. “There’s never a moment that I don’t know I have ALS,” he said. “I can feel it within my body, moving my muscles constantly. But I work at it, and it is paying off.”
Hill also credits a strong faith and a network of thousands of people who are praying for him. “My condition is as close to a miracle as you can get,” he said. It’s also part of what motivates him to always give back. “My family is always asking what we can do for others,” he said.
Hill was able to walk his daughter down the aisle at her wedding recently, and now he has set his sights on a longer walk – from Dewey Beach to his office in Bethany, a 10-mile walk he plans to do solo. “I want to give hope to people with ALS,” he said. “You may not necessarily live a longer life, but you can lead a happier, more fruitful life if you try.”
Hill’s walk will also raise funds to help patients at the ALS Clinic. “There’s no administrative cost whatsoever – anything I raise will go directly to help patients here on Delmarva.” For example, people with ALS often need items such as weighted forks and spoons, elastic shoelaces and canes to help them overcome the tremors that the disease causes. Hill will donate the items to the Peninsula Regional Medical Center Foundation for distribution to ALS patients.
Hill will walk on Saturday, November 22; a celebration is planned at the Wilgus Associates office at the corner of Highway 1 and Jefferson Bridge Road from 11 .m. to 3 p.m. for friends and supporters to cheer him on past the finish line, which he is hoping to cross around 2 p.m. The event, the “Ten-Mile Miracle for ALS,” will feature food, music and chances to donate to others with ALS. For more information about the event, call 302-339-1298 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit facebook.com/tenmilemiracle for news and updates about the event.
To donate to Hill’s effort, checks may be made payable to Ten Mile Miracle and dropped off at the Wilgus office, or mailed to PO Box 1262, Bethany Beach, DE 19930.