Iron Mike DeStasio of Lewes, winner of the 2011 AWBA National Tournament, rolled to Tampa, Fla., April 26 to compete in the 51st Florida State All Wheelchair Bowling Tournament.
The driving time is about 17 hours for 1,000 miles. Wheelchair user Mike drove himself because his wife had family matters to juggle at home. Wendy flew down to meet Mike on Saturday and to help with the drive home on Monday.
Mike is no joke, now five years and two months past the onset of ALS symptoms and 4.5 years since a dire diagnosis had Mike checking out of life’s game about two years ago.
Mike had diaphragm pacer surgery just one month ago and had a feeding tube inserted. The man is a mean motor scooter and I’m proud to say a friend of mine.
“Should I be happy just to compete or try to win the thing?” Mike asked me. “I told him to just be Iron Mike, that’s all he knows, and I knew he would go after it. But five years down the road with ALS and being a competitive bowler leaning out of a chair is a lot to ask.
Mike arrived early on Friday, went to the bowling alley to watch the double competition and was drafted onto a team with some guy named Andy. They rolled nine games, finished third overall, then in a roll-off moved up to second.
Mike, bowling in the A or best division, rolled six games on Saturday and another six on Sunday with his special five-hole ball and was in first place.
He sat and waited for his roll-off opponent. Mike’s scores on the final day were 159, 143, 163, 155, 166, 174.
Mike lost his roll-off championship game to a lefty by 19 pins. I know the man. He was not happy, but not dissatisfied, having put forth an athletic effort against odds the rest of us could never imagine.
And he had his girlfriend Wendy to share the driving on the way home.