Kirk Gibson was an All-American wide receiver at Michigan State and led the Detroit Tigers to a World Series. In short, he may as well be an athlete created by an algorithm specifically catered to my interests. The Waterford, Mich., native went public with his fight against Parkinson's disease in 2015 and has been using his eponymous foundation as a way to help others in the battle.
The foundation's fifth annual golf outing runs from Aug. 14-17 and has an option to join virtually. Participants can compete at their course of choice with proceeds going to the charity. Full details and registration can be found here.
Gibson spoke to The Big Lead about giving back, combating an illness in the public eye, and how he learned to harness an ever-active mind.
Kyle Koster: Tell me about your foundation and how the mission has evolved through the years.
Kirk Gibson: I started it in 1996. I wanted to start a foundation to create scholarships for high schoolers. My parents were educators. It was in honor of my mom at Clarkston and in memory of my dad at Waterford Kettering. I sold some of my 1988 memorabilia, did some stuff like that.
To make it a short story, I got diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. We started to get involved after going through this process of not knowing what was wrong with me to finding out and thinking I was going to die to finding out I could live with it. I found out with proper medication and therapy you can have a good life. Parkinson's doesn't really kill you or speed the process up, it just makes life more difficult because you lose a lot of your motor skills and neurons that create dopamine which coordinate your movements and thinking. It's definitely a different life. I was diagnosed in 2015 and my first symptom was in 2007.