(CBS DETROIT) – In 2015, Tigers legend Kirk Gibson was diagnosed with Parkinson’s, a disease that affects the brain’s motor skills.
According to the National Institute of Aging, the disease can cause inadvertent/uncontrollable movements, such as shaking, stiffness, and difficulty with balance and coordination.
It is a disease that can make everyday life challenging, forcing people with the disease to stay at home and feel isolated in a confined space.
But for Gibson, or “Gibby,” as his close friends of the two-time World Series champion call him, Parkinson’s wouldn’t stop him from living his life.
And he refused to make anyone else living with the disease feel like they can’t live their best life either.
Through the Kirk Gibson Foundation, which initially helped provide scholarships to students, Gibson expanded his mission to raise awareness and money for Parkinson’s research, attacking the disease with the same dedication and intensity with which he played on the field .
And over the past two days, the foundation has waved goodbye to Parkinson’s a few times at two of its signature events; the “Strike Out Parkinson’s” open bowling night at Royal Oak on Sunday night and the annual Kirk Gibson Golf Classic at Wyndgate Country Club in Rochester Hills on Monday morning.
During Sunday’s bowling event, the foundation held an auction of sports memorabilia, along with a panel made up of some of the people who participated in the Tigers’ 1984 World Series victory, including Gibson, in addition to a pair of hall of famers in former Tigers shortstop Alan Trammell and former Padres pitcher Richard “Goose” Gossage.
The trio spent the evening taking photos with fans, signing autographs and reminiscing about that legendary run, in which Gibson hit the game-winning home run against Gossage in Game 5.
Trammell says the focus should be on fighting Parkinson’s and what Gibson has done to help fight the stigma associated with the disease.
“What him [Kirk Gibson] trying to do is bring awareness to some people and also raise some money, but mostly awareness,” Trammell told CBS Detroit. “There are so many people that when they get diagnosed with Parkinson’s, they go into a shell. And he’s trying to get them to be more outgoing and live their lives.
As for Gossage, while he joked that he didn’t know why he was in the city that cost him a World Series for an event hosted by his career rival, he says their fights were legendary and considers Gibson to be a good friend through it all.
“That’s what it was all about; me versus him, him versus me. It didn’t get any better than that, especially in a world series,” said Gossage.
The next day there was less swinging on the hardwood courses and more swinging on the golf course at Wyndgate Country Club in Rochester Hills for the annual Kirk Gibson Golf Classic.
Over the past six years, the Classic has raised more than $1.3 million to fund programs that benefit people with Parkinson’s disease.
It also attracts some of the biggest names in Michigan sports, including Michigan State University men’s basketball head coach Tom Izzo, who says he believes people are taking Parkinson’s diagnosis and detection much more seriously than before, thanks in part to the efforts from Gibson.
“Half of what he [Kirk Gibson] does is consciousness. The money is a big part of it that he raises, but the awareness and the lifestyle and how you live and what you can do. There are so many things I learned from Gibby, in all honesty, about this disease. And I have good friends who have it. And he’s been an important part of how you deal with it,” says Izzo.
If you are interested in getting involved with the foundation, you can visit their website here.