Mike DeStasio of Lewes entered the 50th American Wheelchair Bowling Association National Championship in Brockton, Mass., in 2011 and won the National Championship A Division, surviving a roll-off to win by a single pin. Fittingly, Brockton is the hometown of Rocky Marciano.
Bill Buckner stopped by the tournament, and Mike, a lifelong Mets fan, didn’t miss the opportunity to needle first baseman Boston Bill. “Thanks for 1986,” Mike said of the between-the-wickets grounder that kept the Mets alive in game six and set up a game seven win versus Roger Clemens and a World Series title.
“Staying Alive” is a good theme song for friends thinking of Iron Mike, now entering his fifth year since being diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig's disease). “The Kid,” as he’s known to his buddies back on Long Island, keeps golfing and bowling and fighting a battle he’s been told is unwinnable.
"I know harder times are coming," Mike said from Millsboro Lanes, where he practices each Wednesday morning with his new 11-pound ball recently drilled with five holes for more control.
"Jim Conway, the assistant manager at Millsboro Lanes, came up with the idea of the extra holes to help me control the ball, and I can’t thank him enough,” Mike said. “I plan on bowling this April at the 51st Florida State Championship, and if all goes well, I will also go to Georgia in June to bowl in the 52nd National Championship and make my triumphant return as I missed the 51st due to the strength factor! Of course we are a little ways away from April, but so far, so good. I'm pleased with the outcome as of now!"
A funny aside to Mike’s battle was when a woman - good old girl - regular Wednesday bowler with her home girls came up and said, ”He bowls better than me, and I can see.” Mike just smiled, didn’t tell her he sees just fine, which is good because he drives himself to practice.