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7 years later: Sal Cipriano making remarkable recovery after baseball bat attack

Family's annual 5K race is this week

FARMINGTON HILLS, Mich. – The Cipriano family attack in Farmington Hills captured the hearts and minds of Metro Detroit seven years ago.

The baseball attack at their home killed Bob Cipriano, and nearly killed his wife Rose and their son Sal. The couple's adopted son, Tucker Cipriano, and his friend, Mitchell Young, were later convicted of the heinous crime.



Sal Cipriano was just a teenager at the time. He suffered a severe brain injury. Doctors were not sure he would ever walk again, let alone be able to play ball with his twin brother, Tanner. The twins are 24 years old now, and Sal has shown remarkable growth and recovery.

Videos from just after the attack show Sal trying to get his brain to tell his muscles to move. Now, you can see him walking and running.

"Yeah, it means a lot because we obviously have been doing this for 7 years now, but each year we just see so much growth," said Tanner. "Watching those first videos is like this isn't even you. Who is this guy, and what did you do with him?"

Sal's goal was to walk, and eventually run, and that was made possible through years of therapy with a wealth of doctors. Now he plays on a baseball team. He wanted to throw out the first pitch at a Detroit Tigers game, so he trained and trained, and then he did it.

And that was not enough for him.

Learning to talk again

"Sal really wants to be able to talk, which makes complete sense, and most of us communicate that way. It's faster," said Angie McCalla, Sal's speech language pathologist.

McCalla and the Ciprianos allowed Local 4 cameras into a recent speech session. It was a strenuous activity to watch.

"Sal has a hard time with initiating the speech sounds," said McCalla. "Like, how do I start to make an L or how do I start to make an M? We're combining traditional speech exercises with some alternative ways to do things."

As Sal tries to get his speech back he relies on his phone to communicate with others.

'Tremendous sense of humor'

"Sal has perfectly intact language. He has good receptive language. He understands what we say. He's got a tremendous sense of humor -- tremendous sense of humor," said McCalla.

You can see that sense of humor firsthand when he is with his twin brother. But Tanner has been away for work for about a year.

"They're twins, so they see each other through a lot, together. So it's very neat that (Tanner) can come back and be part of this special event," said Rose.

Cipriano Classic 5K

The special event Rose is talking about is the Cipriano Classic, an annual 5K race that helps raise money for the Ciprianos who have to pay for these mounting medical expenses.

"We're very honored and humbled because there's still a lot of support of people helping us out," said Rose. "This race helps me stay on track with my own healing and keep us all together in a positive way."

And Tanner is back home for the race this week so he can run with Sal. Family is the most important part of life for the Ciprianos, and helping Sal reach his dream to speak again is at the top.


Race information

  • WHEN: 7 p.m. June 7, 2019
  • WHERE: Farmington Family YMCA

Overview

  • 8th annual Cipriano Classic 5K Fun Run & Walk honors the Cipriano Family and raises funds for the Cipriano Children’s Trust.
  • 100% of the run’s proceeds after costs will go to the Cipriano Children’s Trust. The 2017 race donated over $38,000 and the 2018 race donated over $31,000.
  • Registration is available online at ciprianoclassic.com
  • Race Day registration available June 7, 4-6:30 p.m. at the Farmington Family Y. Cost is $40. Cash, Check, Credit Card accepted.
  • Volunteers needed - email ciprunvolunteers@gmail.com
  • For those unable to participate but interested in contributing, donations can be made at the Farmington YMCA.
  • The 5K run starts at 7 p.m. The 1-Mile run starts at 6:30 p.m.

Route

  • The run will start and finish at the Farmington Family YMCA.
  • Participants will turn right (north) on Farmington Road, then directed right (southeast) on Tulipwood through the Kendalwood Subdivision. Runners will make the final turn south on Farmington Road and to the finish line in the Y’s parking lot.

"Sal is looking forward to running even further this year thanks to all of his hard work with trainers and doctors. He is starting his second season with the Miracle Baseball League while still working hard to regain his speech through retraining his brain. Isabella is thriving academically and athletically in her sophomore year at St. Catherine's. She is preparing to be a part of a Leadership Conference Pre-College program at Vanderbilt University this summer. Out in Hollywood, Tanner is a Showrunner's Assistant on the show Narcos. Rose has been working out and training with friends, and we're particularly excited to announce that she recently won the 100m backstroke at a Masters Swim Meet back in January! However, as great as our family is doing, we still face heavy financial burdens that include Sal's ongoing rehabilitation, day-to-day homecare providers, and physical training (none of which is covered by insurance), and so we deeply appreciate your continued support and donations. That being said, we're lucky to still be here with all of you and we look forward seeing all of your smiling faces and stretched hamstrings at this year's Cipriano Classic! Thanks again for all of your love and prayers! God bless and JKLP!" - Rose Cipriano


About the Author:

Karen Drew

Karen Drew is the anchor of Local 4 News First at 4, weekdays at 4 p.m. She is also an award-winning investigative reporter and part of the Local 4 Defenders team.