Here’s how Fredi the PizzaMan is helping with autism awareness

Melvindale pizza shop owner has personal mission after son’s diagnosis

Here’s how Fredi the PizzaMan is helping with autism awareness
Here’s how Fredi the PizzaMan is helping with autism awareness

MELVINDALE, Mich. – Fredi the PizzaMan is open for lunch every day down in Melvindale right at the corner of Allen Road and Clarence Street.

He’s been making pizza for the past 38 years.

"A good slice of pizza is high heat and everything has to be authentic," said Fredi Bello.

Bello makes everything by hand and bakes the pizzas in his shop every single day. But it’s what he does when he’s not making pizza that’s close to his heart. He started a non-profit called Fredi the PizzaMan Foundation.

“It’s strictly for autism,” said Fredi. "Autism awareness, and the foundation focuses solely on equipping sensory rooms throughout the state of Michigan.

What’s a sensory room?

“A sensory room is a place where all students, especially students with autism, can go to relax, calm down, re-center or some students need to go in and get their jiggles out and run and jump and swing,” said teacher Tiffany Marble.

Marble teaches students with autism and understands how important sensory rooms are for her students. Students like Kathleen Dobrovic’s 7-year-old son.

"So autism for me is a developmental disorder. It’s a broad spectrum,” Dobrovic said.

Dobrovic wrote a letter to Fredi the PizzaMan Foundation asking for a sensory room for her son and Tiffany’s school and they were selected. The room has since been constructed and is in full use.

“Thank goodness for Fredi and his Foundation,” said Marble. “They came and we went on Amazon and we picked out some amazing items that really help our students. We have a swing that the students can go on and swing back in forth or in circles. We have a crash pad where they can jump and land on it. We have a bubble tube.”

“So the districts don’t have the discretionary spending to put the sensory room equipment into the sensory rooms to equip our children so Fredi the PizzaMan serves an amazing purpose and filling that void that our children need to be successful,” said Dobrovic.

Bello’s goal is to equip every school in Michigan with a sensory room. He’s doing this work for a very special reason.

“Four years ago, my wife and I, our son was diagnosed with autism,” said Bello. “Antonio. He’s 7. He’s my hero.”

Fredi the PizzaMan proudly displays a photo of his son sitting with him and his father inside his restaurant as a reminder of who he’s really living for. Pizza might be his day job, but his most important work ...

“This is what I want to do with my life. And actually the foundation is of more importance to me than the pizzeria business,” said Bello. “My wishes for my son is we want him to get married. We want him to have a job. We want to be able to go places and he’s accepted. That’s all we want.”

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About the Author:

Evrod Cassimy is the morning anchor for Local 4 News Today. He joined WDIV in August of 2013. He is an award winning journalist and a six-time Emmy Award nominee. Evrod was born in Michigan but grew up in the Chicagoland area.