Ring of Fame honoree Kirk Gibson shifts spotlight to Parkinson's fight

Marie Weidmayer
Special to The Detroit News
Former Michigan State star Kirk Gibson was the honorary captain during the game against Notre Dame Saturday at Spartan Stadium.

Kirk Gibson will be the 12th man inducted into Michigan State University’s Ring of Fame at Spartan Stadium on Saturday night.

Prior to the game Saturday, Gibson said it was a humbling honor but it wasn't just about him.

“I am very humbled about being singled out,” Gibson said. “There are so many people involved. I’m honored to go up in the circle of fame. This isn’t about me. Let’s make sure everybody understands. This is about us coming together in a time of need and giving back.”

Before the ceremony Saturday evening, Gibson led a fundraising effort to generate $1.2 million to fund research through MSU's College of Human Medicine into Parkinson’s.

Fighting Parkinson’s is important to Gibson because he was diagnosed in 2015 with the disease, which is a disorder of the central nervous system.

“I become public with it because I knew I could help others that were maybe struggling with the disease I had for many years,” Gibson said.

Gibson lauds teammates as he enters MSU Ring of Fame

Gibson has been inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame, an honor MSU Athletic Director Mark Hollis said he and others thought wasn’t enough.

“He’s an incredible person, he just wraps up what Michigan State University is all about,” Hollis said. “I think as look you back through time, Gibby is somebody that we have always called upon to do things at various times based upon his notoriety, not only as a Spartan, but as a Dodger, a Tiger, to be there for other people and do amazing things along the way.”

During Gibson’s induction, he will have his former Michigan State teammates beside him.

“When I go out there today to get recognized during the start of that football game, it’s going to be so cool having my teammates out there and all the other people that are part of Michigan State University,” Gibson said.

The induction will be something that will be remembered for years to come, Hollis said: “People remember moments in time … tonight is going to be one of those moments and times. It’s honoring an individual that’s coming forward not only for himself but for so many others that are facing Parkinson’s.”

Marie Weidmayer is a freelance writer.