Former First Ward Commissioner V. Michael Fulginiti Loses his Battle with ALS
Aston Township is mourning the death of longtime resident, businessman and former 1st Ward Commissioner V. Michael Fulginiti.
After waging a courageous and very public three-year battle with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), Fulginiti, surrounded by his loving family, succumbed to the debilitating disease just after midnight on Friday, October 14.
“As a commissioner, Mike was very concerned with the needs of his constituents and as a member of the business community, he was always supportive of the township,” said Commissioner’s President Jim Stigale. “We are all very sad at the news of his passing, and sorry that due to his illness, it was necessary for him to retire from the board. He was a great asset to this board and to the entire community. We extend our deepest sympathy to Andrea, Mike’s children, grandchildren, and to his extended family.”
Fulginiti was appointed in 2007 to fill the unexpired term of deceased Commissioner Bill Jones. He was subsequently elected and re-elected by his constituents to represent them on the board of commissioners.
Fulginiti was the picture of health until he woke up one morning in August 2013 and noticed his speech was slurred. At the time, he thought it would simply “go away,” but unfortunately, that did not occur. And as the weeks progressed, the problem became worse.
After a long, tedious year of doctors appointments and intense testing, Fulginiti, finally received an answer. He was diagnosed with bulbar onset Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. The illness was brought to national attention by Gehrig, a professional baseball player in the 1930s, who bravely fought and eventually died from the disease.
Most commonly striking people between the ages of 40 and 70, ALS is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. When the motor neurons die, the ability of the brain to initiate and control muscle movement is lost.
At any given time, there are 30,000 Americans suffering with ALS. It is incurable and usually fatal within two to five years.
Fulginiti and his family decided to fight the disease head on, and with the help of friends, participated in the highly successful Ice Bucket Challenge. He also joined other ALS patients in Washington, DC for rallies and petition drives hoping for “The Right To Try” alternative treatments.
Fulginiti and his wife also began searching for clinical trials across the country. They visited the Mayo Clinic, Emory University Medical Center, and the Carrick Brain Center.
His family formed the Family Strong 4 ALS Foundation and in June, the foundation held a fundraiser which resulted in raising tens of thousands of dollars for the National ALS Foundation.
Fulginiti lost his ability to speak and in January 2016, officially resigned from the Aston Board of Commissioners.
At the time, Fulginiti was presented with a plaque and many compliments on his dedication to the community.
In the hours following his death, social media was full of condolences and praise for a man who showed great strength and humility in the face of great adversity.
“Mike was a blessing to our community and a great commissioner,” said longtime resident Carol Cannon. “He often went out in snow storms and helped residents remove snow from their driveways. He was also a huge supporter of the Aston Historical Society and believed it was very important to preserve our history for future generations.”
Resident Grayce Turnbach expressed her feelings in the following post:
“Mr. Fulginiti was a man, above all else, of faith & family. He was a loyal friend and a man who always did the right thing because doing anything other than that wasn’t HIM. Never have I ever met a person who was as kind & sincere as him. I am blessed to have known him, his beautiful family, and to be a part of Family Strong 4 ALS this past year. It is with a heavy heart that I say this but, may you rest in peace, my friend. You fought long and hard. You will be forever missed. Xo.”
And these words from Will Holt: “Prayers to Andrea, Kerri, Michael, Amber and the rest of the Fulginiti family. I can’t say that Mr. Fulginiti lost his battle to ALS or anything along those lines. What he and his family did was far from losing. Instead, they won by raising awareness for ALS and they won by showing us what family is all about and how to be there for each other. I did not see or spend much time with Mr. Fulginiti as I got older and I regret that. Despite that fact I can say without a doubt in my heart that he was a great man that was loved and will be missed by all.”
At the end of his retirement ceremony in January, Fulginiti, using a special speaking device, thanked the community and promised to remain strong in his resolve.
“It is with great appreciation I would like to thank the community for their thoughts and cards that have lifted my spirits as I continue to battle this horrible disease. I will not give up hope or stop fighting.”
And he kept his word!
Rest in Peace Mike. You were loved and respected by many and will be greatly missed.
Funeral Service will take place 11 A.M., Saturday, October 22nd at Mt. Hope United Methodist Church, 4020 Concord Rd. Aston.
Visitation: after 5 P.M., Friday, October 21st at the Minshall Shropshire-Bleyler Funeral Home, Ltd. Middletown (Rte. #352) & Knowlton Rds., Middletown Twp., Media, PA., and 9:30-10:45AM, Saturday at Mt. Hope United Methodist Church.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to: Family Strong 4 ALS at 115 Drayton Rd. Aston, PA 19014.
By: Loretta Rodgers