We were introduced to Jim Hicks in San Diego by Melanie Roach-Bekos from the ALS Association, Wisconsin Chapter. Same awesome gal who introduced us to Jim Eutizzi, who we sent to Italy.
She sent this video:
After watching this, we did some more exploring and learned about his great family and support system and his positive outlook on life. We were told that a life long dream of his was to go on a Panama Canal Cruise.
With the help of Melanie, his brother, Brad Hicks, Carol Cannon, and the money donated to The Gleason Initiative Foundation, we were able to secure plane flights and tickets for the cruise. As a suprise, his father and step mom were to meet them in Florida and fly back home with them.
We called Jim and his wife Nadine and surprised him with the news.
We got this email from them afterwards:
“Dear Steve and Michel:
I am still in awe over your phone call last night. Thank you does not even come close to say how much me and Nadine appreciate what Team Gleason is doing for us, WOW a Panama Canal cruise, something we have dreamed about for years.
You are an inspiration to all of us with this disease and everyone whose life you touch. Through your effort you are not only giving to PALS but raising significant awareness about the disease so that hopefully when Rivers gets older he will live in a world free of ALS.
Again, thank you, thank you, thank you. Hopefully someday soon I can meet you in person and give you a proper thank you instead of an impersonal email.
We will take lots of pictures and tell you all about our trip when we return.
Before the trip, he sent this family pic from Thanksgiving:
(From left to right in the back:
my son Brandon, daughter Cristin, father Phil, step mom Mary Lou, wife Nadine and me in the front)
After the trip, we received this email:
“Steve and Michel:
We can’t thank you enough for providing us with the wonderful cruise through the Panama Canal. It really is an amazing to think they built it the early 1900’s primarily by hand. When you cruise through the locks, the “cut” and into the second largest man made lake in the world, you can’t help but be impressed with the engineering and human toll that went into building it.
It was great talking with you the other night from Milwaukee, just wish you could have been there in person. I don’t know if you could see the audience but they were spellbound handing on your every word. I know you made a positive impression on them which will only help in our fight to end ALS.
If you guys are every in San Diego or want to come to San Diego you are more than welcome to stay at our house, as you can probably guess, it is wheelchair accessible.
Again, thank you very much for the great trip, it truly was a once in a life time adventure.
All our best,
Jim and Nadine”
In February, the ALS Association, Wisconsin chapter honored Steve at their event, The Evening of Hope in Milwaukee. Jim and Steve and Michel got to speak via Skype. This is an email from his brother, Brad:
You and Steve rocked it Michel!
I’m guessing when they turned the cam around during the event you could see the crowd… the standing ovations, etc. But what you probably could not see was how engrossed and uplifted everyone was as they listened to Steve. There was silence in the room. Steve’s voice thingy-ma-jig sounded really clear too! Bro Jim will be getting one soon.
When I saw him off this morning I said, “I love you.”
He said, “I love you.”
“And No White Flags,” I added.
“No White Flags,” he said.
I recognize (with some tears as I write this) that those will probably be the last words I hear directly from his mouth.
I can think of no six words that could mean more.
Jim was so thrilled to be able to chat with you and Steve when we were doing the check. There were many highlights during their adventure, but I am certain none for Jim topped being able to personally thank you. I’m not sure you guys could see what he was holding up, so I’ve sent a pic I took during the chat. They made these posters and hung them over the railing as they went through the Panama Canal. It is extremely difficult for Jim to stand– how he did it is beyond me, but I’m sure his determination to do it was inspired by Steve.
Love and a lifetime of gratitude to you and Steve-