Faces of ALS: Michelle Gutierrez — Batting Against ALS

Emily Cerbone Faces of ALS, Home Page

Michelle has been a lifelong Chicago White Sox fan. But when she went to a Sox game in June, she saw something that left her in disbelief.

Prior to her ALS diagnosis, Michelle and her longtime partner Sue led an active life, frequently attending sporting events, playing softball, and traveling to their favorite spots like Turks and Caicos, Las Vegas, and Key West, Florida.

“Michelle and I met through a friend 26 years ago,” said Sue. “We started dating and have been together ever since. We always enjoy spending time together talking and laughing. We also love spending time with our family and friends and we love throwing a good party.”

Before Michelle was diagnosed with ALS, she was diagnosed with stage 3 ovarian cancer but is now thankfully in remission. Following her battle with cancer, Michelle began experiencing difficulties with her hands. After seeing several specialists, she was diagnosed with ALS in November 2021. Sue was stunned.

“The ALS diagnosis was quite shocking considering that Michelle just went into remission from her ovarian cancer,” says Sue. “I thought that the doctors had to be wrong because this just isn’t fair. Nobody should have to endure what Michelle’s been through and what she continues to go through every day. I struggled with it for a long time.”

Michelle began treatment at the Lois Insolia ALS Clinic at the Les Turner ALS Center at Northwestern Medicine and subsequently discovered the services and support offered by the Les Turner ALS Foundation.

“We’ve been working with the Foundation’s ALS Support Services Coordinators Karen Steffens and Cara Gallagher,” says Sue. “Karen always makes sure to answer all our questions, and sees that Michelle is doing well. Cara has been helpful with many things, especially in figuring out Medicare.” Little did Michelle know that Karen was also working behind the scenes on a big surprise.

In June, while attending Lou Gehrig Day at Guaranteed Rate Field with the Les Turner ALS Foundation, Michelle was invited onto the field and was shocked to receive a customized White Sox wheelchair, thanks to Karen’s resourcefulness in nominating Michelle for this wonderful gift. The chair was made possible thanks to help from the Chicago White Sox, the Hendriks family, The LiveLikeLou Foundation, Permobil, and the Phi Delta Theta fraternity.

“My White Sox customized wheelchair is awesome,” says Michelle. “I was genuinely surprised and honored to be gifted the wheelchair at the Sox game. I couldn’t have received a more perfect gift. It was an emotional experience for me. I never thought anything like that would happen to me.”

Michelle’s journey with ALS continues but she feels fortunate to have friends and family by her side. She gets through each day with the help of her primary caregiver and partner Sue, but also with a positive mental attitude.

“I stay strong and positive every day with my support system by my side,” says Michelle. “I never complain because somebody else has it worse than me. Never give up!”

Help us help other ALS families like Michelle’s to continue their fight and to make memories. Donate today!