To watch the episode of "Undercover Boss" with Piotr Gal and his
son, Matthew, visit
Piotr Gal had no idea that Edward, a new fellow worker at his
commercial window washing job, was actually the company president,
Gal, who lives in Bridgeview, also had no idea that his
7-year-old son, Matthew, who has cerebral palsy, would be touched
by Slipsager's deep-pocketed generosity.
Posing as a Dutch immigrant seeking a full-time job, Slipsager
learned several positions from his own workers at ABM, a
maintenance services company with locations throughout the country.
The workers did not know Slipsager's true identity. He did this for
an episode of the popular CBS TV show "Undercover Boss," which
allows CEOs to pretend they are merely workers to see their company
from the ground up.
Gal, who's from Poland, struck up an easy relationship with
Slipsager, a fellow immigrant, on the first day of "training" him
to clean high-rise windows in downtown Chicago.
"I've got three kids and been married 13 years already," Gal
told Slipsager as they set up a safety cable on the roof of the
"Good for you," replied Slipsager, who was visibly scared as the
shaky scaffolding climbed the side of the high rise.
"My life is kind of hard. My son is 7 years old and he has
cerebral palsy. He's not walking, not talking. That's the hardest
thing," Gal told him. "He gets therapy for a month… in Europe.
Poland. The ticket is $1,700… too much."
Gal, an ABM window washer supervisor of 14 years, revealed his
dream to take his son to a specialized intensive therapy program in
Pontiac, Mich. The program, inspired by a program in Poland, is
called Euro-Peds and it's based at Doctors' Hospital of Michigan,
where children with cerebral palsy are given personalized therapy
to learn new skills.
The only catch was that Gal's health insurance would not cover
the cost of the program, so he considered moving back to
"It would break my heart for a guy like Piotr to leave this
company to help his son," Slipsager told TV viewers during the
show's airing months later.
By the show's end, the truth came out when Gal was summoned to
the company's New York City headquarters for an "evaluation" of
There, Slipsager revealed his secret to Gal and informed him
that ABM would fund two intensive-therapy Euro-Peds sessions for
Matthew. That included all travel and hotel expenses for each
two-week period, in addition to the $6,000 for the program.
Gal's son Matthew arrived at the Euro-Peds program for his first
two-week session on Jan. 31. He participated in specialized "suit
therapy," working with specially-trained therapists 20 hours a week
to learn to walk independently.
"Matthew can walk, but he gets tired easily and he doesn't have
the balance or confidence to walk independently," Gal says. "I
would like to see him become more stable and strong."
It is typical for Euro-Peds' young patients to return for
intensive therapy a couple times a year, especially during growth
spurts. The goal is to give children time over a two- to three-week
period to learn new skills and gain enough strength to carry out
those skills in a real-life setting, according to spokeswoman Anne
"In Matthew's case, he has more weakness and balance issues and
he will benefit from regular therapy and occasional bouts of
intensive therapy to bump him up to his next functional skill
level," Mancour says.
Matthew's second two-week session ended July 22 and, according
to his lead therapist, he did wonderfully.
"He worked hard and was a pleasure to treat, always smiling,"
says Mel McGinnis, a senior intensive pediatric physical
The therapy's goals focused on skills that involved strength,
balance and function, including tall kneeling, static standing
balance, ascending and descending stairs and beginning to take
independent steps, she says.
"Through his 40 hours of intense strengthening and repetition of
these tasks, he improved all of them," McGinnis says. "But perhaps
the most exciting of all his gains was the increase in his
This was such a significant improvement that his parents noticed
immediate changes at the Michigan hotel as well. There, Matthew
would walk into a room, stop to look around, and then turn and walk
into another room, they say.
Gal could only echo what he initially told Slipsager through
tears that day in his boss' New York City office: "Thank you, thank
you very much."
Jerry Davich is a freelance writer and father of two living in the Chicago area.
See more of Jerry's stories here.
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