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Minooka High student’s cancer battle gets attention of foundation, Notre Dame

Published: Tuesday, Aug. 20, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT • Updated: Tuesday, Aug. 20, 2013 7:53 a.m. CDT

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SHOREWOOD – Last year, Alex Czuczuk of Shorewood was “just going to physical therapy” for treatment of an inflamed tendon in his leg. A student at Minooka Community High School, Alex was getting ready for football season when he began experiencing pain in his leg.  

About six weeks into his treatment with ATI Physical Therapy in Shorewood, Alex’s therapist, Brian Murphy, became concerned about his progress.

“He wasn’t getting better and his pain was unchanged,” Murphy said. “Additionally, I felt something in his leg that just wasn’t right, so I suggested that he go back to his physician for another look.”

Additional tests ordered by Alex’s physician confirmed Murphy’s suspicions, and Alex was diagnosed with osteosarcoma – a bone cancer most common in adolescents.

After Alex’s cancer treatment, and a surgery that removed the cancerous bone in his leg and replaced it with an orthopedic implant, Alex returned to ATI Shorewood.  His physical therapy team – Murphy and Jason Adolph – were happy to have Alex back, and they began to restore his mobility and function.

But, that’s not the only thing that Murphy and Adolph did for Alex. They nominated him as a beneficiary for the ATI Foundation, and it helped him with medical and physical therapy expenses.

“I think we all see Alex as part of the ATI Shorewood family,” Murphy said about doing all he can to help Alex. “We want to play an active role in his recovery because we want him to be able to do everything he was doing before. After what he’s been through and all his hard work, it’s what he deserves from us.”

The ATI Foundation is committed to aiding children with physical impairments in need of medical resources and funding to enhance and sustain a better quality of life. Alex was the ideal candidate. 

“I felt Alex was the perfect candidate for the ATI Foundation given his unforeseen circumstances with osteosarcoma,” said Adolph, clinic director at ATI Shorewood. “I was glad to nominate such a good kid who ran into some bad luck. Being a beneficiary of the foundation has lifted his spirits and overall outlook.

“Alex continues to have a great attitude while completing his physical therapy, and has now decided to pursue a career in physical therapy.”

Recently, Alex’s friends at ATI and the ATI Foundation had another surprise for him.

When others from ATI got wind that Alex was Shorewood’s biggest Notre Dame fan, they placed a phone call to the Fighting Irish.  

“We’re all inspired by kids like Alex,” said Julie Gardner, PR specialist with ATI. “When we can do a little something extra to help make his time at ATI more special, it’s an incredible feeling.”

ATI Physical Therapy is an Official Partner of Notre Dame Athletics, and Notre Dame was happy to help and show its support for Alex. Alex was presented with a box full of goodies . . . directly from the Golden Dome.

Now, everyone at ATI Shorewood is looking forward to seeing Alex don his new football jersey and sunglasses in the clinic . . . just in time for the start of the season.

You Can Help Kids like Alex

Funding for kids like Alex is made possible through the support of the communities where ATI friends and family live, work and serve. 

On Saturday, the 10th annual Crusin-4-Kids Motorcycle Ride, Celebration and Annual Harley Raffle will take place to bolster that support. The event begins at 9 a.m. at Harrah’s Casino Joliet, with the first bike out at 10 a.m.

Riders will enjoy a scenic cruise with stops in Wilmington, Morris, Utica, Sheridan and Plainfield — wrapping it up with a celebration at Joliet’s Heroes West Sports Grill. 

The donation is $20 per rider or passenger includes poker run entry, T-shirt, patch, raffles, food and live musical entertainment at the post-ride celebration.

Tickets for the annual Harley Raffle are $10 – featuring a Limited Edition 110th Anniversary Harley-Davidson Motorcycle and cash prizes. Tickets are available now through Aug. 30 at any ATI Physical Therapy location (must be 18 years of age to purchase a raffle ticket). Winners will be drawn on Tuesday, Sept. 3, for the Limited Edition Harley, and cash prizes of $2,500, $1,000, $500 and $100.

Don’t ride? Then join the post-ride celebration at Heroes West in Joliet, starting at 3 p.m.

The donation is $10 and includes food, entertainment and raffles. Children ages 7 to 12 are only $5. 

For more information about Cruisin-4-Kids, the Annual Harley Raffle or the ATI Foundation, visit www.ATIfoundation.com or call Terry Williams at (630) 296-2222 x7900.

If you know a child you can benefit from assistance offered by the ATI Foundation, visit www.ATIFoundation.com and submit your nomination today!

About the ATI Foundation

The ATI Foundation is a non-profit organization founded by ATI Physical Therapy to become more involved in the communities in which our clinics are located, our patients reside, and our employees live. The vision has always been to help individuals with medical needs.

Over the years, a more specific focus has led the foundation to assist children with physical impairments. 

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