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Steve Annear running the Detroit Free Press Marathon

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A United Front

Steve Annear overcomes his own obstacles so he can help others.

It became a friendship bonded forever over mutual respect when Birmingham resident Steve Annear met former Detroit Tiger Kirk Gibson while golfing at Lincoln Hills Golf Course one early Sunday morning years ago. Annear recalls that he and his golf group watched Gibson running up the last hole, bag on shoulder, as he was about to tee off. Annear’s group all recognized Gibson immediately as he walked by, and they said hello. 

Annear, however, went home and Googled him, as the Australian transplant did not know who Gibson was. He quickly learned not only of his athletic feats but what an inspiring person Gibson is and how much he means to the people of Metro Detroit. 

He also discovered that Gibby had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. 

Creating the Kirk Gibson Foundation in 1996 to provide college scholarships to high-school students, Gibson expanded its mission to raise awareness and funding for Parkinson’s Disease after his diagnosis, in 2015, becoming renamed the Kirk Gibson Foundation for Parkinson’s (kirkgibsonfoundation.org).

Annear was drawn to Gibson, and the two wound up becoming golfing buddies and a strong bond developed almost instantly. Annear was moved by Gibson’s battle with the disease and impressed by his incredibly positive attitude in the face of it and his determination to channel his energy and celebrity toward his namesake organization. Ultimately, Annear’s respect for Gibson evolved into taking positions with the foundation as managing director and board member last year. 

But the friendship digs deeper. Born and raised in the Australian Outback, Annear had his leg amputated due to vascular issues at the age of eleven. Overcoming many obstacles related to his amputation, Annear represented Australia as a coxswain. Professionally, the CEO of several businesses moved his family from Melbourne to Michigan in 2014 for one of those businesses. 

When the Birmingham-based Annear met Gibson, he was inspired by the kindred spirit of a person rising above obstacles to live a life based on what he can do for others. To that end, Annear raised close to $100,000 for Gibson’s foundation — by completing the 26.2-mile Detroit Free Press Marathon on Oct. 16, on crutches. 

Running alongside the foundation’s Team 23, Annear says, “I have been privileged to join the team at the Foundation to help drive Kirk’s vision to provide hope, help and inspiration to those with Parkinson’s Disease. 

“I did this because I love a challenge but, much more importantly, to raise money for the foundation,” he says. “Over the past two years, my friendship with Kirk has awakened me to the massive challenges that this disease presents to those who have Parkinson’s Disease, to their families and to their carers. Gibby’s own fight has personally inspired me to get involved and help out.” He came in at less than nine hours.

“If you can help even one person in any capacity, it is worth it,” Annear says. While we may see Annear as an inspiration, he sees himself as a man determined by his own values and sense of what he can accomplish. He may acknowledge that he has one leg, but he doesn’t allow it to define him — instead using it as an opportunity to shine the spotlight on others in need. 

  • Steve Annear running the Detroit Free Press Marathon