Editor’s note: The following letter is from Steve Anoia, who, along with his family, are the benefactors of today’s “Rock the Complex” benefit.
I moved from my home on Chestnut Street in Kulpmont in the summer of 1999, and started a life with my now-wife, Jill. It was only two years prior that I threw my graduation cap with my fellow classmates of the Mount Carmel Tornadoes of 1997. I have such a big family back home that it’s impossible to see all of them when I did come home to visit, let alone visit any old friends. Still, I managed to play in some golf tournaments and see old friends from time to time. I’ve been to many football games and got to see the Big Red in Hershey and other playoff games in my area.
Our class was always filled with many amazing people, like Amanda (Matzura) Shebelsky, and we were always really close even if geographically we may not have been close at all. Amanda was one of the first people to befriend me when I moved to Kulpmont from Shamokin in the third grade. When she messaged me on Facebook about her and Kenny Pizzoli and Jaime Hynoski wanting to put together this fundraiser for our family, I didn’t know what to say. My wife runs a nonprofit in our community of Royersford, and our family is very active in our community where we live with our two sons, Gabe, 14, and Chase, 10. We have had plenty of practice helping others, but being the ones being helped, especially monetarily, is not as easy as you would think. At least not for us.
The ALS for Hope Foundation at Temple Hospital in Philadelphia is where I see the best team of medical professionals who dedicate their lives to not only aid and treat us PALS (People with ALS), but also are very active in finding a cure for this disease. One of those amazing people there is Mary. She is there in a mental health capacity, and the first time we met her she said to us that many people will want to help us because she could tell that people love us, “so let them help you in anyway they want to.” My family knows that accepting charity was something we had to learn.
Amanda was very patient with me, and I told her I would be honored to accept anything they are offering our family. The next day the messages and Facebook notifications were unreal. I get a lot of new friends still today and I am so happy to re-connect with old friends.
The money generated from “Rock the Complex” will no doubt help our family a great deal, but I am more excited to see everyone. I have even heard from teachers and old teammates from my past teams and even some opponents. The love and support has been amazing and to a degree overwhelming.
I like to think that I have always been a pretty down-to-earth, humble person, but ALS raised humble to a whole new level. People commend me all of the time for staying positive, but they don’t realize it isn’t me at all. It is my wife and kids, my family and relatives, my co-workers, my friends and definitely my class of ’97 and the whole coal region’s love and support — that is how I maintain hope.
Growing up, my family was obviously a big factor in the man and father that I am today, but I would also like to thank some other families like the Matzuras, the Mychaks, both Kulpmont Bressi families, the Michalowskis, our neighbors the Thompsons, the Spiellers, the Delaneys, the Boylans, the Letcavages, Miss Carmello, the Hutnicks, the Baileys and especially the Hollenbushs.
Bev and Jim, you were like a second set of parents to me, and I will forever be grateful for that. I would like to thank you all for everything you ever did and continue to do for me. My man Stosh, thanks for being my big brother and always having my back. You did a lot for me as a young kid and your words of encouragement today are something I am grateful for. Thank you.
There are so many other people to thank and I hope to do that today at the event. I am proud of where I am from. The coal region toughness is inside of me, and I will never quit fighting this disease. ALS sucks, but days like today help me remember that the world is still filled with great people who can do amazing things.
I love you all, and on behalf of Jill, Gabe, Chase and myself, thank you so much for loving us!