By Dylan D'Alessio
Wiss Partner, Craig Erickson had a special bond with his wife’s Uncle Dom, or as she called him, Zio, meaning “Uncle” in Italian. At the age of 17, he took an immediate liking to the man who was always ready to play basketball, have a catch or talk sports. Dom and Craig always had plenty to talk about, seeing as Uncle Dom was a huge Yankees fan and Craig was less than fond of them. Even though Uncle Dom was family, Craig was extremely thankful for how he treated him as a great friend. In November 2008, Uncle Dom was diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) and only a few months later in January of 2009, Craig and his family found themselves attending a dinner they never expected would become such an important part of their lives.
The Robert Luongo ALS Fund was founded in 2004 by Phil Cuzzi, a MLB umpire, after his best friend Robert passed away from ALS. The fund was started as an education trust fund for Robert’s daughter but has since changed focus allowing for funds to be donated to ALS research and to assist local ALS victims and their families with medical expenses.
Uncle Dom and family were invited to attend the 2009 Robert Luongo ALS fundraiser where Uncle Dom was honored. The fundraiser presented the family with a generous donation to help pay for medical expenses. They were tremendously grateful and Uncle Dom made it his goal to attend the 2010 dinner. Sadly, he was not able to attend; he passed away that June.
Craig and his wife, along with 20-30 close family members and friends have attended the fundraiser every year to give back and remember Uncle Dom. In addition, they participate in the ALS walk every May at the Jersey Shore, near one of Uncle Dom’s favorite places. This past summer, Craig and his family participated in the ALS ice bucket challenge.
Incorporating the ALS fundraisers into their lives is important to them in keeping the memory of Uncle Dom alive. In participating in ALS events, their hope, along with many other participating families, is that someday a family will not have to say goodbye to their loved one, but instead welcome them home after treatment.
Watch this touching story of New Orleans Saints Special Teams legend, Steve Gleason, who has been battling ALS since 2011.