CHICAGO - When he was faced with a terminal diagnosis, a Chicago man cooked up an idea to reinvent himself for the benefit of others.
Billy Zureikat’s social media is a sizzle reel of unique food mash-ups, probably because he isn’t a trained chef. Zureikat, a logistics manager at a freight company, turned to cooking after receiving a life-changing diagnosis.
"I noticed muscle mass in my legs getting smaller. I was falling a lot and then as time went on, I started losing the ability to run and I couldn't get up and down stairs, and something was bigger that was happening," said Zureikat.
In March 2021, after eight years of struggling with mysterious symptoms that stripped him of his ability to play sports, he was diagnosed with limb-girdle muscular dystrophy 2L.
"It's a very rare form of muscular dystrophy that affects about 1 in every 250-thousand people throughout the world. I was born with this disease but it didn't take shape until I was 30," he said.
Not knowing what the future would hold, Billy reinvented himself and the food Chicagoans love. His signature recipe is a corn pizza drenched in a shishito pepper cream sauce.
"I eventually decided to rename this pizza after my diagnosis and I called it the Tripping Billy because I lose my balance and fall because of muscular dystrophy and I thought maybe I could turn a really difficult time for myself into something positive," said Zureikat.
To date, Billy has partnered with dozens of Chicago restaurants and bars to sell the pizza and his other concoctions, raising $48,000 for the Muscular Dystrophy Association.
He hopes the money leads to a breakthrough providing patients like him with a healthy heaping of hope.
"It doesn't matter what you’re going through, if you lost your job, went through a breakup, something where you're forced to change. Food helped me find joy in a time that was tough for me. I’m hoping that I can inspire you to do the same and that maybe one day we find a cure," he said.
Billy has launched his Tripping Billy Chicago Tour, reimagining his famous pizza into different styles. The pizza is now available at Peanut Park Trattoria in Little Italy as well as the Coalfire locations in West Town and Lakeview. A portion of the proceeds go to the Muscular Dystrophy Association.
To donate to his cause, visit the Muscular Dystrophy Association website.