June 2003: Angelo Sciulli, the Warrior
The summaries in English were extracted from complete articles published on Il Centro - Quotidiano d'Abruzzo and Il Messaggero - Abruzzo edition.
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8 June 2003 - Il Messaggero
Angelo Sciulli, an emigrant's son, affected with the Lou Gehrig disease, uses photography to defeat his illness, by Stefano Dascoli
Abruzzo has a unique beauty, different from any other thing I have ever seen. An amazing land, rich of woods, delicious valleys, inhabited by friendly people. And then the food: the best in the world". Angelo Sciulli is 55 years old. In 1998 physicians gave him three, at most four years left. He cannot speak, since he is affected with the so called Lou Gehrig disease, an illness (scientific name amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) that strikes the nervous cells commanding muscle movements. Angelo takes a notebook with himself, that he uses to communicate with others and to write down every kind of thought. He writes slowly. But he smiles, always. The disease that struck him in 1998 has nearly totally paralyzed him. That notebook |is not, however, the only way to make his voice "heard". An American from North Carolina (he lives in Charlotte), born of Abruzzese parents (his mother Carolina Marinelli, still living, 83 years old, is original of Silvi; his father, Sciulli Angelo, was born in Gamberale, province of Chieti) Angelo Sciulli Jr. is in fact a nature photographer, with an immoderate passion for animals, carnivores are his favorites. "My wife says that I love these animals because I have a death wish: but it is not true". He arrived in Abruzzo by himself: here he was welcomed by the friends of Abruzzo World Club. An explorer's journey - he loves to repeat - an explorer that is not afraid of living, though everything he does is always difficult for him". As a matter of fact, Angelo uses a walker to move, a special chair that allows him to walk and to sit. He did not come to Abruzzo to look for relatives or reconstruct his past. He is here because, in spite of everything, he continues to say that " life is marvelous" and that he wants to see "new places". Since when he learned of his disease, Angelo has visited a great many places in the world. Before coming to Abruzzo he was in Rome, where, in a hotel, they forgot to serve him lunch and kept him fasting for one day. Then he came to L'Aquila. "A marvelous city - he says - I have here seen the passing of time: 2003, the Middle Ages, modernity, history, culture. In America the oldest city is 450 years old". Angelo also visited Gamberale, the small village of his father, where the most common surname is Sciulli. And then Civitella Alfedena, the Lake of Penne, the springs of the Pescara. He photographed wolves, hawks, eagles, even marsican bears. His true passion. "To photograph bears you needn't be the fastest person to escape, just faster than the slowest". This is his life's motto. "Marsican bears - he writes - are more docile, smaller, less aggressive than the grizzly (his favorite, ndr), but not less beautiful". Angelo is an explorer, a fighter, a lover of life. He was the director of a research company in South Carolina. Then he retired to devote himself to photography. "When I learned of my disease, I was devastated: I looked within myself and I realized that I was waiting to die. Then I decided that to have a new life I had to enjoy myself: this gave me a reason to get up in the morning. And here I am: I was to live three or four years, I am in the sixth and I am still almost autonomous". Angelo is writing the last chapter of the book that tells his life. Possibly the most important one. Under the title he writes: "the first that goes has no path, the followers will have a path". He is just like that. An "explorer" who wants to help the others. He raises funds for those affected with his disease. He has some coins in his pockets. He gives them to those he meets. The coin represents an Indian woman, Sacajewa, who helped two explorers to face the dangers of the North Western territories. Angelo is like Sacajewa: he wants to help the others. He will fly back to America this Tuesday. "But next year I will return to Abruzzo with wife, children and my grandson Christopher". He smiles, closes his notebook. "Today was a beautiful day, tomorrow will be still better". Good luck, warrior.